When some young women fail to find a mentor, they blame themselves, says Nancy Strojny, a consultant based in Portland, Maine, and the chair of her local chapter of SCORE, a national nonprofit that supports small-business owners and provides free mentoring services: “Too many think, If I were working harder or if I were good enough, I would attract one.”
Define your objective. Be clear about what you’re after. Are you looking for a supportive, weekly mentoring session with someone who will guide your career long-term? Specific advice for a project that you’re grappling with right now? Or do you simply want what Strojny calls a “coffee mentor,” someone whose brain you can pick when the spirit moves you?
Be realistic about your expectations. “Many people that I mentor default to ‘Nancy must know best,’ ” says Strojny. “Our job as mentors is to expand your scope and to get you to think about how to frame your experience. We’re not here to make your decisions for you.”