How to find the right mentor to build your career confidence

VP of marketing europe at, Sinead Bunting, spells out the need-to-knows when getting your dream mentor.

Finding someone to help you navigate the twists and turns of your career path is crucial to workplace success. Through sharing their experience and guidance a mentor can be a great asset that also helps you grow as a person by building your self-awareness and career confidence. Whilst we’d all love a mentor to help guide us, it can be quite difficult to find the perfect person for the role, and sometimes quite daunting to ask them.

To help you on this journey I have some tips to help you from finding the right person for your personal and professional development to building up the confidence to ask them.

1. Choosing the right person for you

Have a think about what you want a mentor for. Are you looking to get tips at succeeding in your specific field or are you looking for a role model you can gain confidence from by learning how they approached the challenges of their career, even if different from yours? Once decided, do your research. Try and pick someone that you have some common ground with – you’ll be spending a fair amount of time with this person! Most importantly, remember every your mentor doesn’t need to be super senior. Someone who is one or two levels above you could possibly be a better fit as they will have a strong understanding of the challenges you are facing.

Related: The essential guide to business mentoring

2. Knowing where to look

There are many different ways to find the perfect candidate. If there is not one you know that jumps out to you immediately try asking friends, work colleagues or people you respect if they can recommend someone. There are also great industry specific events and workshops you should consider attending, some even hold speed dating evenings for mentors and mentees. Ahead of meeting people, bear in mind that a strong social media presence can be helpful as it will give you a platform to reach out to people after you meet, as well as give them a good idea of your work background. So make sure your profile, whether that’s LinkedIn or Twitter, looks good and professional.

Related: Mind the mentoring gap: Why men are more likely to seek out career mentors

3. Build the confidence to make the ‘ask’

So you’ve met someone who inspires you, but the thought of asking them upfront “will you be my mentor?” is feeling incredibly daunting. Don’t worry! It’s easier said than done. But don’t be scared, just remember that your potential mentor was probably once in your shoes looking for someone and that people are often flattered when asked for advice. Before you ask, make sure you’re prepared. Think about how they could help you with a current problem or decision you have to make. Do you need advice on negotiating your pay rise or do you want tips on how to move to another role? Identifying what you want to discuss will help you to be more confident when approaching them, whilst demonstrating that you are committing to this, don’t intend to ‘waste’ their time and will value their advice.

Related: Should you have a career mentor? The real-life business benefits

4. Follow up!

Once you’ve made the ‘ask’ – remember to follow up. Whether on email or social media popping a note over will show you are keen and would really value their guidance. Once you have formed a relationship with them, keep the contact up suggesting regular catch-ups and offering your time in case there is anything they would find useful – mentoring doesn’t have to be one way! If you do this your mentor/mentee relationship will grow organically over time. Like any relationship it’s based on mutual respect and trust so don’t force it, give it time and stay committed to reap the benefits.

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Michael Somerville

Michael Somerville

Michael was senior reporter for from 2018 to 2019.

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