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5 steps for finding an ideal mentor

Knowledge and experience aren’t enough to run a business. You also need mentors to guide you. Here are ways to find a good one.
By Jennifer Wang |


Looking for a business mentor?

Leslie Rapp feels your pain--and she's in the business of solving it. She's director of training and development at Menttium, a Minneapolis, Minnesota-based provider of corporate mentoring services and research metrics on business mentoring. That's right. People pay her to mentor them ... on being mentors. We asked for a crash course.



  1. First, think about you, Rapp says. Exactly why do you need a mentor? What do you hope to learn? Then figure out the kind of person who can best inspire you. For example, if you're starting from scratch, look for a mentor who did, too.
  2. Do you actually need a mentor? If you have a specific problem to solve, you may want a consultant. If you're stuck in a rut, a professional coach may be a better choice.
  3. Start with small talk. You meet potential mentors every day (not that they go around introducing themselves that way). Ask about their work and their life, and see where it leads. Rapp likes to ask how someone came to do the work they do. "I never get a straight-line answer," she says, "and the story tells me a lot."
  4. Spell out what you want. Asking "Will you be my mentor?" is a pretty sure way to make potential mentors flee. Instead, say you want to learn more about what they do and that they would be a great resource. Suggest meeting every quarter, or having coffee once a month. Be specific.
  5. The answer may be no, and that's OK. Keep searching, and know that you're a good judge of character. Great mentors don't say yes to things they can't commit to.


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This article originally appeared on Minor edits have been done by the editor. 

Photo from Flickr (David Amsler)

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