Mentoring is one of those topics that I feel is widely misunderstood and, therefore, underutilized. I’m on a mission to change that because mentoring is one of the most powerful tools you can have to accelerate your career, business, or leadership path. I think people get how powerful it can be because I hear them saying they want one, but they aren’t sure how to utilize them and how to find one. So they wait. That changes today!

So when do you need a mentor in your career or business?

Right now is my answer.

Mentoring can give you someone to brainstorm new ideas and approaches. It can shortcut your advancement, expand your network, and provide you with access to the expertise you wouldn’t usually have access to if you are willing to look. But, it’s not a one size fits all process, and it’s not just for the people who are new at their careers.

Mentoring is an option for everyone, no matter where you are in the timeline of your career or business. And, you can have more than one too!

So how do you find the right one?

You get Clarity on w at you are trying to achieve. When you think about wanting a mentor, for what purpose? Is it to gain help mapping out your career? Is it figuring out your next steps or the next level? Is there help around a particular topic that you are looking for?

People have a very narrow view of mentoring, and I’d like to expand it a bit. No matter what you are trying to achieve, a mentor can assist. But, you have to be willing to ask for what you need from a mentor. This requires knowing what type of mentor you’re looking for according to your career or business goals. Here are some other types of mentors or mentoring categories:

Career Mentors – This is someone you meet with routinely and for a specified period, say 6 or 9 months or more. In a more formal career mentoring relationship, you’d be wise to have structure and goals around what you wish to accomplish with your (and their) time. But, again, this gets you the guidance you need to develop your career overall.

Group Mentoring – This is when someone mentors a group of individuals. I recently spoke to a SHRM Chapter on this exact topic, and essentially, I was mentoring them on mentoring. Perhaps someone in your office is willing to present their knowledge about a specific topic to a group of people for a group mentoring experience. What do you want to learn? Chances are others do too.

A Skills Mentor – A Skills Mentor is exceptional at what you need to learn. Do you need to improve your communication with senior management? Who do you know that is very articulate and can help you uplevel your professional communication? Maybe you need to be more prepared for an interview. Who is it that you know that is polished and comfortable in that setting?

Mentoring Moments – This happens when you ask for a specific reason and at a particular time. Perhaps you want to increase your negotiation skills so the next time someone in purchasing has a call or meeting, you can sit in and debrief after. Maybe you want to understand contracts better, so if you know someone from legal, you might ask them to explain some of the legal jargon in layman’s terms.

There are also Virtual Mentors. These are the books you read, courses you take, coaches you work with, YouTube videos you watch, the podcasts you listen to, all for the goal of increasing knowledge, skills, and gaining advice and wisdom.

So where do you find a mentor? They are most likely right in front of you. They can be co-workers, friends, family members, people in your network, members of associations, everywhere. Once you get clear on what you need to achieve in your career or business, pay attention to the people you work with or meet who have the skills you need to succeed. #MakeTheAsk

Don’t let any other factor deter you from finding a mentor. They don’t need to be older or senior to you in your organization. They don’t even need to be in the same organization, industry, or country, for that matter. Instead, find the person who knows what you need to know and is willing to share it. That’s a mentor!

Here’s wishing you the Clarity you deserve in your quest for a mentor!