How to Find a Mentor

10 April 2024

There are many opportunities for kids, tweens, teens, and young adults to find mentors. There are coaches, school counselors, teachers, clubs, church groups, and so on. For adults, it becomes more difficult to find someone who will give you tips or just listen to your plans, especially if you are changing careers or re-entering the market after a break.

Finding anyone who is willing to help you or have the time for you, let alone someone that you can relate to, isn’t that easy. Here are some tips that may help.

What are your needs?

First you need to decide whether you need specific or general help. In other words, somone with the savvy to tell you how to approach your manager about a raise, to help with your image, or to suggest additional materials to give you a better leg up.

Would it be better for you to have someone within or outside the company you are working for?

Search Process

Finding the individual is, as you might have expected, the difficult part. You are basically looking for someone who has the expertise and who is willing to be your guide. However, don’t discount personality. You may also consider more than one person. It depends on what you need help with, like improving marketing skills, or technology, or networking strategies.

Begin by looking at those already in your sphere. Check libraries and community centers. Professional organizations sometimes have a group who are willing to take on proteges.

If you work for a big company, you can often check with your human resources department for in-house sponsorship or mentoring programs. However, depending on the company and quality of your HR generalist or specialist, it can also be the case that you will get platitudes that will get you no further than you are on your own. That’s when you need to look elsewhere.

Try This is a nonprofit that partners with the Small Business Administration. They can be beneficial if you are considering branching out on your own.

LinkedIn has an advanced people search. Type in the name of your university alma mater and then narrow it by your current ZIP code to find individuals who are in the same general field you are interested in.

Don’t rule out any age group, older, younger, or your same age. It is the experience and skill level you are looking for, plus someone who is willing to share and steer you correctly.

finding a mentor

Think Ahead

Plan on what you will say and how you will phrase it. Have data (accomplishments) ready to discuss. Know what type of help you will ask for and about how much of the mentor’s time it will take. Understand that they may ask for something in return, like a fee or a return favor. Know what you are willing to offer.

When you have narrowed your focus, contact them to see if they are willing to meet and discuss the topic. Start by asking for advice. Ask if you can come back to them for more information or additional suggestions.

Don’t make it sound like even more work for them. But, at the same time, don’t be flippant. Have them realize that you are serious about moving up in the business, starting your own venture, whatever.

If they are unable to accommodate you, thank them for their time and ask if there is anyone they would recommend. If not, start over. If they can help, thank them and see if they are willing to meet again and discuss the issues further.

Respect boundaries. Don’t innundate your mentor with minor or continuous requests. Keep them in the loop but on whatever schedule works for them. Not everyone wants the formal title of mentor, so tread carefully.

If they haven’t asked for recompense in any way, offer something in return. Not necessarily monetary. Mutually devise some method to pay it forward or back. At least pay for the lunch, dinner, or coffee when you meet.


You need to absorb the advice or suggestions that are offered. Turn off your phone. Make sure they jive with your moral compass and ultimate goals. Think about what is being said and how you can implement the ideas. Sometimes the feedback is negative and you need to be prepared to accept that as well.

If things don’t work out for whatever reason, you may need to find another individual who will better suit your needs or personality. Just don’t ghost your current mentor. Keep in touch at least occasionally to update them on your progress or success.

The bottom line is that with a little, or lot, of help from friends, and your own efforts, you can come closer to achieving your goals.

Finger Lakes Events

See Your Business Here!

For more information on our listings, advertising, coupons, and mailers, please contact us today!