How to find and approach a Mentor – Quick Reference

How to find and approach a Mentor – Quick Reference
Although formal mentoring programs add value to any suite of professional development initiatives
not all organisations have the resources available to run a quality mentoring program, and it may
be desirable for individuals to find their own mentor. Approaching potential mentors can at first be
quite daunting; however, preparing using the following questions can make it easier.
Understanding Mentoring: Mentoring relationships enable the professional or personal growth of
mentees through developmental guidance or sponsorship offered by a mentor who has the
relevant skills, knowledge, experience, or influence. In its simplest form, mentoring helps you
figure out where you want to be and how you will get there.
Different mentors can help you in a variety of different ways and you may need more than one
mentor to provide you with different kinds of mentoring.
Mentors can provide developmental guidance to help you:
 develop your skills
 choose career goals and strategies to achieve them
 apply for jobs
 balance work and home life
 thinking more strategically and get the big picture view.
They can provide sponsorship to help you:
 access a variety of people and resources
 expand your networks and broaden your horizons.
Both the mentor and mentee benefit from the relationship.
1. Clarify your goals
What do you want to achieve?
What will be different when you achieve it?
Why is this important for you?
When would you like to achieve this by?
2. Take stock of the current situation
What have you already done or tried, to move toward this goal?
What is happening now that is contributing to you achieving your goal?
What stops you or hinders you from moving toward this goal?
Define the attributes that you would like a Mentor to possess
Consider their skills, networks, knowledge areas, career experience, and personality.
Essential Qualities
Desirable Qualities
4. List potential mentors and people who could help
Potential Mentors
People who could help me find a mentor
5. Making First Contact
There are many ways to initiate a meeting to discuss a potential mentoring relationship. You could:
phone them
email them
approach them in person at a forthcoming event or meeting
ask a mutual acquaintance or your supervisor to introduce you.
Before making contact with your potential mentor consider the following checklist.
 I know what assistance I would like from a mentoring partner.
 I have some ideas, subject to agreement with my mentor, about how the relationship might operate.
Tips to feel more confident when approaching your potential mentor:
 In the first instance, ask only to meet to discuss a potential mentoring relationship. You might even
decide after the first meeting that this person is not the mentor for you.
 Prepare in advance what you will say.
 Have a practise run with a friend.
 You may feel reluctant to impose on a busy person to be your mentor. Give them the option of
declining, and it’s then up to them to say no if they are not available. For example, “I’d really
appreciate your advice but I know you’re busy, so I’d understand if you have too much on your plate.”
 Remember most people are flattered to be asked to be a mentor, and find the experience rewarding.
Don’t assume they are too busy to participate – give them the option.
Action plan
Who I will approach
(Ideally more than one person)
How I will approach them
For further information – “The Mentee’s Guide – Making Mentoring Work for you” by Zachary and Fischler can be read
online as an ebook from the UQ library.