You’ve probably heard the advice at several points in your career, “You should try to find a mentor.” Whether it’s for career growth as part of a company or when striking out on your own, the idea of having someone more knowledgeable to turn to for advice on work is a common one.
Of course, once you decide you want a mentor, the next question is how to find one – it’s not like you can pick up a phone book (assuming you can find one of those in the 21st century) and flip to the “mentor” section.
Where To Find Mentors?
The first thing is to realize that great mentors are found in a variety of places. Seek out mentors at business associations, non-profit organizations (like the Lions Club), your college/university, within your family, faith groups, even community groups such as business chambers of commerce.
While phone books might be a thing of the past, there are even more options online, including online entrepreneurial communities.
One of these communities is rayjlive.com. Started by Raymond Young, they are a business based in Vancouver, BC, Canada, with more than 75,000 members/entrepreneurs who have successfully created a business.
Imagine being able to take advantage of a global community of like-mind digital entrepreneurs who share knowledge and inside to help each other grow and learn from others so you can avoid costly errors.
Visit rayjlive.com for more information.
What Are Some More Places To Look for Mentors?
Networking events are perfect opportunities to expand your professional network. When going, try to talk to as many people as you can. Don’t just go with a mission of leaving with a mentor – this isn’t a nightclub. Instead, let things develop naturally.
Entrepreneur ‘Hot Spots’
Suppose you live in a city with a thriving startup scene. In that case, there are probably several entrepreneurial “hot spots” in the area.
What makes a hot spot? Maybe it’s a startup incubator with an open workspace where you can get some work done and meet some local people in the industry. Perhaps there is a weekly brainstorming session among creative minds library? Try to attend a few of these to see if there are any leads.
Social Networks like LinkedIn and Twitter
LinkedIn is well known, but Twitter too (despite its reputation for, um, “passionate” politics) is a valuable tool for finding potential mentors. LinkedIn lets you find potential candidates based on your industry and demographic area. But be sure to introduce yourself casually and unassumingly before asking for a more significant engagement.
Small Business Development Centers
Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) are organizations that provide resources, expertise and advice to emerging entrepreneurs in major cities across the United States. Using a mix of federal, state and local government funds, plus help from the private sector, they offer a range of services, including free consultations.
In Canada, the Business Development Bank of Canada has a similar program with its business centres across the country.
SCORE is another organization partly funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration. They are dedicated to helping individuals start, run and grow their businesses. SCORE has over 11,000 volunteers in the program currently, with 320 chapters across the country. SCORE lets you request a free face-to-face meeting with a mentor to discuss your business idea. If all goes well, you may be able to form a more lasting partnership.
Industry expos or speaking events focused on your industry are great places to look. Events are great places to find someone more experienced than you. Plus, you can learn more about your industry during the search.
Your direct competitors might be reluctant to give you actionable advice to succeed in their market. Instead, seek out your indirect competitors, such as companies in the same industry targeting a different market segment. Another option is to look for companies far from your local market. If these companies have been in business longer than you have, their leadership will have considerable wisdom to dispense.
Volunteering is a great way to make all kinds of connections. You’ll meet all kinds of people, from college students to retirees, all of whom will be able to teach you something new. Plus, you’ll be giving back to the community in the meantime.
Friends and Family
Have you asked around your circle of friends and family? Someone on your contacts list might know a cousin or former roommate who became a successful entrepreneur. These types of connections are usually the easiest to build once discovered.
Hopefully, these will give you some ideas for where to get started looking for your business mentor.