How to find a mentor who can foster your political ambition

If you're a young professional in the government sector or someone hoping for a future in elected office, having a mentor can be a game-changer. Working with a mentor provides many benefits, like advice, access to new networks, and someone to encourage you and foster your ambition. Here's a road map to help you find a mentor whose experience and skills will help you reach your goals. 

Where do I find a mentor?

For some people, their ideal mentor is already someone in their network with whom they have a relationship. However, even if someone has the perfect mentor in mind, they may not have the time for you when you need them. 

Established professionals, especially those serving in political office, have packed schedules and juggle competing commitments. Be prepared to cast a wider net. Try: 

Online mentorship networks:There are many online programs dedicated to pairing young professionals with potential mentors, like Find a Mentor.

Professional networking events: If you prefer to talk to people in person, you could also attend more networking events. You'll meet professionals in many different areas and expand your network, even if you don't find the right mentor on the first go.

Social media:With keyword searches on social media, especially LinkedIn, you'll be able to find prospective mentors that match your interests. Spend time following them and getting to know them before an outright request for mentorship. 

What should I look for in a potential mentor?

Ask yourself these questions to see if someone in your life would be a good mentor. If you say "yes" to most or all of them, chances are they'd be the right fit for you:

  • Is it clear they have real experience walking the same path as you (or a path you're interested in)?
  • Do they seem to invest in and enjoy being a part of others' success?
  • Are they good at giving and receiving feedback?
  • Are they invested in their own growth and development?
  • Do they see the value in investing in growth and development in general?
  • Do you respect and like this person inside and outside the office?
  • Are they well-liked by others?
  • Do they have mentors of their own? (If so, that's a good sign they understand the value and impact of a mentoring relationship.)

Once I identify my mentor, how do I woo them?

Asking someone to be your mentor can feel a little like taking a friendship from the friend zone to dating. The process requires intention and patience. And the possibility of rejection feels a little scary. Before you ask your prospective mentor to commit to a mentor-mentee relationship, you'll need to put in some work. Building a relationship is essential. Here's what you'll want to keep in mind:

  • Starting with your initial outreach, be sure to help your potential mentor understand what you're working toward or what you need support in and why you're turning to them rather than someone else.
  • Do your research and get to know as much as you can about your prospective mentor. Therefore, when the time comes to make your ask, you are informed and ready to have a thoughtful and impactful conversation.
  • Understand and respect your prospective mentor's availability and priorities. Your mentor has a personal life, job, and responsibilities, so show your respect by not being too demanding of their time.
  • You have to be willing to be open, vulnerable, and honest with your prospective mentor about your challenges and weaknesses. Testing the waters with an initial conversation can help you decide whether or not it feels right to keep moving forward.

At the end of the day, before you establish a mentor-mentee relationship, you want to make sure your mentors know you care about them as much as you expect them to care about you.


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