Why You Need Mentees and Where to Find Them

Just like any capability, becoming a really skilled mentor requires practice.

I’ve been doing it formally for 25 years and I am still learning. Every time I add a new tool or technique to my mentoring toolbox, I look around for someone to try it out on. Unfortunately for family and friends, that can sometimes be them (yes, we can use some of these skills in our personal lives – they actually come in handy!)

I’ve collected several mentees over the years. I might not hear from them very often, but when I do, it’s always a pleasure to connect again. So, lately I’ve been thinking about how to find myself some more mentees so I can continue my journey as a mentor. In particular, I don’t want to forget how to effectively set up a new mentoring relationship for success and get started in a positive way.

At the Art of Mentoring Academy, we give you opportunities to come together through masterclasses and webinars. In these, you can connect with others to share ideas, thoughts, and get some practice in a very safe environment. But that’s a bit like learning to drive a car with an instructor. Eventually, you have to get out there on your own.

It’s surprising how few people are actually asked, on an informal basis, to provide mentorship. I’ve found that most people are genuinely pleased when someone reaches out to them for mentoring assistance, but it just doesn’t seem to happen all that often. So, if you are a keen mentor, you may need to look around and find yourself some mentees.

Look in the obvious places first 

When we have survey organisations, we have found that two-thirds have formal mentoring programs and this is even more likely in medium-large ones. Work is a great place to start, if you are not already opting in as a mentor to workplace programs. Many companies have multiple programs, so you may be able to select the kind of mentee you’d like to support – an emerging leader, a graduate, someone with a culturally diverse background, and so on.

Professional, trade and industry associations are another terrific source. Many of these offer mentoring as a member benefit. Volunteer as a mentor and you will find this may help you accumulate Continuing Professional Development points required for membership. Association mentors gain particular enjoyment from giving back to their profession and say it helps them stay in touch with new trends.

The more hidden avenues

Anywhere you connect with people in a group can be an opportunity to provide mentorship. Clubs, committees, community groups of all sorts provide useful opportunities to find a  mentee (or a mentor, for that matter). Make it known to people that you are open to supporting and developing others, and you may quickly find a line at your door.

Try adding mentoring to your LinkedIn profile. Many people post “open to work” – why not “open to mentoring”?  As an Academy member you can download your membership badge and place this on your LinkedIn profile. A simple post saying that you are available to mentor a particular type or profile of mentee would more than likely result in a few requests.

Never stop learning

Last year I broke my shoulder. My physiotherapist taught me some exercises to do that gradually returned my mobility.  What use would knowing how to do the exercises have been, if I hadn’t done them every single day, several times? We can teach you the skills of mentoring. We can open your minds to the mindset and approach that successful mentors adopt. But we can’t make you a great mentor. Only you can. Keep building mentoring skills, then go practise!

Written by Melissa Richardson ©  Art of Mentoring 2023