January 8, 2013
Finding a mentor is easier than you think
In my previous post, I discussed how the use of mentors can help thaw the "Seattle freeze" when it comes to networking and getting to know people in the area.
Finding career mentors isn't always easy, however, and asking someone you don't know to be your mentor can be intimidating. Overcome your jitters by following these tips:
Clarify what you want. Before seeking out mentors, write down your specific expectations and the role you want mentors to play in your career. Do you want someone who can help your stalled networking attempts, assist you in learning more about a certain industry or provide guidance on how to be a successful entrepreneur? Clarifying your expectations, goals and objectives will ensure that you find the right mentors and that the relationships benefit your professional goals.
Think outside your cubicle. Great mentors can be found in a variety of places, so try looking outside your workplace. Seek them out at business and women's associations in the area, non-profit organizations, within your family, church groups, even community groups such as business chambers of commerce.
Set up a meeting. Once you've identified a potential mentor, ask to meet and discuss a possible mentoring relationship. Asking for mentoring is an important step to make certain you're both clear on the terms. This meeting should take place somewhere that is mutually comfortable and where you can speak in confidence.
Be clear with your mentor. Once you've found someone who agrees to be your mentor, make sure you share the same commitment to your expectations. Be clear on the time required and the availability of your mentor, and establish a regular meeting schedule with topics you'd like to discuss.
Here are some local resources to get you started on the path to finding a mentor in the Puget Sound area:
ACE Mentor Program. Introduces Seattle-area high school students to job opportunities in the architecture, construction and engineering industries.
TiE Seattle's New Entrepreneur Support and Training (NEST) Mentoring Program. Helps new entrepreneurs find mentors. Membership fee required ($100).
MicroMentor Seattle. Free online service that connects small-business owners with business mentors. Find a mentor or volunteer to be one.
Greater Seattle SCORE Mentoring. Provides access to volunteer business counselors.
MAMAS (Mother Attorneys Mentoring Association of Seattle). Empowers attorney mothers and encourages them to succeed while celebrating their roles as attorneys and mothers.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
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