Our friends at YEC asked members of their council to answer this inquiry from a reader…
Question: How do I find a mentor suitable for my professional goals?
Regardless of your professional goals, the answers are certainly enlightening and helpful… read on!
Attend Industry Talks
“Attend all talks, networking events and speaker panels related to your industry; at the end, make a point to go up and introduce yourself to the speakers. Give them your business card, and then follow up with them by email. Ask if it would be okay to contact them from time to time for advice and to keep them posted on your progress — they often say yes.”
– Stephanie Kaplan | Co-Founder, CEO and Editor-in-Chief, Her Campus Media
Find a Genuine Supporter
“If you meet someone who you think you would like as a mentor, take time to get to know them before requesting their regular input; make sure that they’re most interested in helping you achieve your goals, not making a replica of themselves. The ideal is to find someone who makes you feel respected and empowered, not uncomfortable or constricted.”
– Elizabeth Saunders | Founder & CEO, Real Life E®
“SCORE is a great resource that partners with the Small Business Administration to provide free mentorships to those who need it. They are great at producing high quality mentors and advice.”
– Vanessa Van Edwards | Author and Techpreneur, Science of People
Look to Further Your Education
“Even after you’re knee-deep in your industry, it benefits you to seek new sources of continuing education: classes, post-grad internships, informational interviews, etc. Not only will you continue learning, you’ll have the opportunity to meet those who could eventually become colleagues and mentors. Establish and maintain those valuable connections.”
– Steph Auteri | career coach, writer, and editor, Word Nerd Pro
Clarify Your Goals
“The more time you spend clarifying your goals and desired outcomes, the easier it will be to articulate what you need from mentorship. Most ideal mentors are very busy so one of the best ways to get on their radar is to be specific in your requests. If you clearly communicate your intentions, your chances of success increase.”
– Lisa Nicole Bell | Founder/CEO, Inspired Life Media Group
What Do You Need Help with Now?
“There’s no rule that says you can only have one mentor at a time, let alone one mentor ever. It’s unlikely that one mentor alone is going to be up on all different aspects of your goals. So rather than trying to find one perfect mentor, take a look for the mentor that can help you with what’s currently on your plate.”
– Thursday Bram | Consultant, Hyper Modern Consulting
Scavenge Your Extended Network
“Find someone who is in your same (or a similar) field or industry. This person should have similar goals to your own. Take the initiative to contact the individual, as you’ll benefit most from the relationship. (Although, don’t think that your potential mentor won’t benefit at all—they will.)”
– Heather Huhman | Founder & President, Come Recommended
“You can connect with just about anyone these days on Twitter and you’d be surprised how receptive people are. Send a tweet to your dream mentor and let him or her know why they inspire you. I have connected with three mentors on Twitter that I otherwise may never have had the chance to meet and learn from!”
– Natalie MacNeil | Emmy Award Winning Media Entrepreneur, She Takes on the World
You Already Have a Mentor
“I’ve often found that my mentors have popped into my life without me seeking them out. In fact, every encounter I’ve had has been some sort of learning lesson. Often times, the people who are teaching us the most, sometimes more than a hired or sought after mentor, are those who are right in front of us — we just aren’t seeing them in that particular light.”
– Erin Blaskie | CEO, BSETC
The Search Works the Opposite Way!
“I believe the right mentor finds you. Of course, you need to be passionate and transparent about what you hope to learn and how you want to grow, and work tirelessly toward your goals. Join professional organizations, express your work on Twitter and LinkedIn and ask people you admire to coffee, mentors come out of the woodwork — organically and authentically. “
– Tammy Tibbetts | She’s the First
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.
Image courtesy of sgiquarterly.org. Thank you!