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Finding a mentor is one of the most powerful strategies for making faster progress with your career or business. No matter what your goals are, someone accomplished and knowledgeable in that area is extremely valuable for guiding and inspiring you. How do you find such a person? Let’s explore some of the most effective strategies to find and keep a mentor.

Benefits of a Mentor

A mentor is someone who teaches, guides, advises, and inspires others to improve or excel. There are all types, such as people who mentor children, academic mentors, and business mentors. It’s really the latter we’re concerned with here, but the basic principles are the same in every case.

Above all, they are a role model. If you want to achieve a certain outcome in your life, nothing is more helpful than the support of someone who has already accomplished this. It’s one thing to read about such a person but something else to develop a personal relationship with him or her. They are not the same as a coach, although there are similarities. You pay coaches to help you. You have a less formal and usually unpaid relationship with a mentor. They are more like a trusted friend or family member with the experience and expertise to guide you.

Mentors are helpful at all stages of your career or business. They help you start out with new ventures, set goals, and develop strategies for achieving your goals. Just as important as any practical advice they provide is the psychological support. When you’re feeling confused, discouraged, or overwhelmed they help to ground you and let you know that overcoming obstacles is part of the journey to success.

How to Find a Mentor

The precise way you find a mentor varies according to your personality and circumstances. There are, however, a few general rules to follow.

  • Identify someone you want. Focus on someone whose accomplishments are a good match for your goals. For example, if you’re pursuing a career as a compliance officer, look within your own company or perhaps a successful author or lecturer in this field. This is someone most likely to help you find compliance jobs and provide guidance for advancing in this career.
  • Make contact. Don’t wait for a mentor to approach you. If it’s someone at your place of work, approach him or her in person. If it’s someone you follow on Twitter or LinkedIn, you’ll have to make contact on one of those platforms. There are benefits to choosing someone in your area, as it’s easier to meet up in person. However, communicating via phone, Skype, or online messaging is certainly viable nowadays.
  • Don’t immediately ask someone to mentor you. Start by introducing yourself and asking some questions. It’s always good to explain why you admire this person and reference some of his or her work.
  • Let the relationship evolve. Not every potential mentor works out. Don’t try to force it. Over time, you’ll discover if you have a good rapport with the person.
  • Examine the results. Assess the relationship. Are you getting tangible benefits from your association with your mentor?

How to Keep a Mentor

A true mentor is extremely valuable and worth keeping. While some people will give you a few helpful nuggets of advice and disappear from your life, a true mentor is someone who sticks around for a while. If you’re lucky, it’s a long-term or even lifetime bond. Here are a few tips to help you keep a mentor.

  • Find ways to help your mentor. Don’t think of mentorship as a one-way relationship where you receive all the benefits. Do what you can to help the person, such as by promoting his or her work when you can.
  • Take responsibility. Don’t expect them to give you all the answers. They point you in the right direction, but it’s still up to you to do the work.
  • Understand that your mentor is busy. They are usually professionals with busy schedules. It’s okay to make requests but don’t make demands or feel entitled to their time.
  • Show that you’re listening. Mentors like to see evidence that you’re listening to them and using the tools they provide. This doesn’t mean you’ll always succeed, only that you take their advice seriously and try your best.

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