A good mentoring relationship allows both mentor and mentee to develop new talents and build self-awareness. In business settings, the mentee can become more in-tune with a corporate culture, and the mentor can hone leadership skills. But arguably the toughest part of a mentoring relationship is finding a mentor. When beginning your search, consider these tips:

Know yourself: Consciously think about where you are in your career, and where you would like to be. Honestly assess what type of personality you have, and which personality types complement your style. Consider your strengths and weaknesses, and define how a mentor might guide you through your growth. If you don? t know yourself, how can another person support you and help you grow?

Be proactive: In some cases, mentoring relationships form naturally. But don? t count on it happening that way. Develop a deliberate course of action to find a mentor ? a course which can include all of the ensuing tips.

Ask for referrals: As with any search process, tap into your friends? and colleagues? networks to expand your reach. When requesting referrals, be clear about what you? re looking for and why. It? ll save your time, your friend? s energy, and the contact? s efforts.

Keep an open mind regarding who this person might be: A mentor is someone who will help you grow in the area(s) most important to you. This person is not necessarily your supervisor, or anyone with a high-ranking title, or even someone in the same business. Look for someone who exemplifies the traits and skills that you want to adopt. If your accountant models the mindset-management behaviors that you strive for, she could be your mentor.

Identify where you may find a suitable mentor: Good sources of mentors include your management team, industry associations, online communities, your clergy and/or congregation, and professors. Also consider people in your non-workplace communities, such as retirees, local business owners, and people associated with your hobbies. (Note: Some personal coaches advise against choosing your supervisor as a mentor because of a possible conflict of interest.)

Know what you want to achieve from the relationship: A clear understanding of your purpose and desired result will ensure that you find a suitable mentor, and that you and your mentor find value in the relationship. This clarity also eliminates any future confusion regarding roles and expectations.

Think about people who have been your mentors in the past: Whether deliberately or not, each of us has had mentors in our lives. Think about the people who have mentored you and the qualities that you appreciated most about them. Use these traits as barometers to finding a new mentor.

This information provides food for thought rather than counsel specifically designed to meet the needs of your organization. Please use it mindfully. The most effective interpersonal or organizational communication plan should be tailored to your unique needs, so don't hesitate to get assistance from an expert. Have questions? Send us an email.

Jamie Walters is the founder and Chief Vision & Strategy Officer at Ivy Sea, Inc. in San Francisco, CA.