How to find a mentor to help, support and advise you when starting your new business or career.
Starting a business or entering into a new profession can be challenging at the beginning as there is so much to learn. Problems will be encountered along the way and mistakes can be made that could have been avoided with a little guidance from someone with more experience. A mentor who can help and support you in those crucial early stages can be invaluable. That’s why we have gathered some of our best advice on how to find a mentor to help you get started.
What is a Mentor and Why are They Beneficial?
A mentor is a voluntary professional who guides, supports and advises a less experienced person in order to help them to learn, grow and develop in their chosen field. You may need a mentor if you plan to build a business or enter into a new profession and need to learn the ropes. Working out how to find a mentor can sometimes be a challenge. A mentorship relationship can be formal, via an educational/professional institution or agency, or informal, through a more experienced friend or relative who has acquired enough experience to help and advise a novice.
What Qualities Does a Good Mentor Have?
A good mentor has walked the same path that you are about to embark on and has made mistakes and learned lessons along the way. They have patience, understanding and professional experience. They may have been on the receiving end of mentorship in their less experienced years and want to simply “pay it forward.” For the mentor it is a way of giving something back to society after they have gained experience and become successful in their chosen field.
In order to find a mentor, you need to show that you are serious, curious, interested, motivated and a fast learner. A mentor doesn’t want to waste their valuable time with a mentee who is not taking the relationship seriously or who doesn’t have the ability to succeed in their chosen field. A mentor can also be a teacher, lecturer, boss, co-worker, relative or a more experienced friend, so look out for someone you respect, whose advice you will value and with whom you can develop a meaningful, supportive working relationship.
Common Misconceptions About Mentoring
Mentoring is a one-way relationship in which I take but don’t give
Surprisingly, this is not the case at all. A mentor gains much satisfaction out of his work and wants to see you succeed. He is giving up his time voluntarily and wants to see that you appreciate, accept and achieve your goals as a result of his guidance.
I need to wait for a mentor to find me
Finding a mentor is an active, not passive process and finding a mentor requires your input, action and initiative
Some Tips on How to Find a Mentor
- List your career, educational or business goals and know exactly where you want to go.
- Choose a mentor, ideally, from someone you know; an experienced friend, teacher, college professor, or business person. It is much more of a challenge (but certainly possible) to find a stranger to agree to be your mentor and a far easier option to find someone that you already interact with and have already built a positive relationship with.
- Be helpful and positive on social media. Like and share the posts of people you see as potential mentors and make positive comments. Refer new clients or business to them where possible and offer your unique voice, perspectives, experiences and resources to further the action and conversation.
What to Look for in a Mentor
- Someone with integrity
- A good listener
- Someone with a network of contacts
- An optimist who will be your cheerleader
- Someone who will be direct and honest about the good and the bad
How to Find a Mentor?
Research potential mentors on social media. Take the time to post, comment, support and follow their updates. Check out your family and friends. Remember that a mentor can be in any field, the most important thing is to find someone with more professional experience than you.
Socialize and Network
Meetup is a platform for building communities of like-minded people to get together and share ideas and knowledge, enjoy experiences or learn skills. There are business groups, hi-tech groups, art, writing, walking, music and so much more. Just select the field that you are interested in and join a group.
It’s a great way to meet new people, network and build valuable contacts. Meetup could well be the perfect place to find a mentor. Another excellent way to network is with Eventbrite, to find events all around the world in a variety of fields.
Just choose your area of interest and register for an event that interests you. You will meet like-minded people in a field of your choice and it could be another great place to socialise and network. You could also join hobby groups where people gather together on a regular basis to enjoy a shared experience or learn a new skill.
Check out your social media networks. You may come across someone that you have connections with who you can request to mentor you. This may be a little uncomfortable at first but learning to make requests is a valuable skill to learn. A potential mentor may be closer than you realize, so check out your family and friends first. There may be a seasoned professional among them who would be more than happy to mentor you.
Organizations That Can Help
Check out Mentor Mondays, an initiative by Richard Branson, CEO of Virgin. You can sign up to their weekly video series in which successful well-known people share their insights and impart some of the knowledge that they have gained through their experience. They also do podcasts and inspiring articles providing valuable knowledge and information to help you in your path to success.
You should also check out Platform University, an online learning community with the mission of helping leaders build engaged online audiences and share their message with the world.
How to Build Business Knowledge
If you want to start a business but could benefit from more knowledge, you can take some inexpensive online courses. If you want to really build a strong foundation and want to compete in the job market, getting a degree in Business Administration is a lot less expensive than you may think. UoPeople is an American accredited online university that provides tuition-free degrees. This means that there is no charge for teaching and instruction, but there is a one-time $60 application fee, and a $100 assessment fee per course. Our goal is to open up the gates to higher education, making it accessible and affordable to all, anytime, anywhere, based on the belief that education is a basic human right.
8 Tips on Meeting and Building a Good Relationship With Your Mentor
- Ask them to meet you for a discussion.
- Build rapport and don’t ask them to mentor you on the first meeting.
- Be flexible — it can be a quick informal meeting anywhere that suits them.
- Evaluate and decide after the first meeting if they could be a good mentor for you.
- Think about whether you like them, can build rapport with them, whether they are supportive and a good listener and whether they will have the time in their schedule to help you.
- Come prepared to your meeting in case it goes well. Compile a list of relevant questions to ask your potential mentor. This will showcase your interest in the field you need mentoring and it will jumpstart your budding relationship. Make sure these questions come in context to your discourse. The idea is to have a flowing conversation, not an interview.
- Widen your definition of mentoring and understand that it can come in different forms and not just one-on-one coaching, such as podcasts, blogs, books, courses and mentor membership sites.
- Remember to give and take. It’s not all about taking — you should always be giving something back to the mentor.
- Follow up after the meeting and let the relationship evolve naturally.
How to Keep a Mentor
- Be prepared to be challenged
- Don’t end the relationship when it gets daunting or challenging
- Always ask for feedback
- Be an enjoyable person to mentor
- Be great at what you do
- Ask for responsibility
- Participate as much as possible
- Build your support network
- Commit to the process and always remember that mentoring is just as much about what you put into it, than what you receive from it
Finding the right mentor can take time and you will need to be patient and invest time in the process. A mentor with the right professional experience who is older and wiser and has already travelled the road that you aim to travel can be invaluable in your future business or career.