How to Find a Mentor

Some of the most coarse advice for raw entrepreneurs is to “ find a mentor. ”
It ’ second understandable—after all, it ’ sulfur good advice ; having a mentor kinship is often a dream come true. A mentor is a teacher, a sure adviser that a budding entrepreneur can turn to with questions and get valuable advice, tailored directly to their industry and specific commercial enterprise situation .
But, how do you actually go about finding a mentor ? While sometimes the kinship forms organically, it ’ s besides a lot to hope that the perfect mentor will plainly drop into your lap .
I reached out to respective entrepreneurs, both those who have had know as a mentor and as a mentee, to get their advice on how to find a mentor and establish this relationship.

Listen to Peter and Jonathan talk with Caroline Cummings about finding a mentor on the third base episode of The Bcast, Bplan ’ s official podcast ( at 12:44 ) :
Click here to subscribe to The Bcast on iTunes »
We ’ ll go over where to find a mentor, including both general suggestions and specific on-line resources. additionally, I ’ ve compiled a list of tips from these entrepreneurs about building the mentor relationship, how to approach your mentor, and how to get the most out of the relationship .

Where to start your search:

Look to your own network first

To answer the question of “ How do I find a mentor ? ” with the childlike answer of, “ By networking ! ” is a bit maddening. We all know networking builds connections, but for newly entrepreneurs, it can be hard to start .
so, when you start thinking about how to find a mentor via network, think about build connections, quite than finding “ the one. ” Focus on expanding your net, and making connections with others in a variety of industries whom you can learn from .
“ Consider your own network of connections, ” says Susan Bender Phelps, owner of Odyssey Mentoring & Leadership. “ Look at the top 20 to 30 people you presently do commercial enterprise with, who are not your customers. You are looking to see if one of them would be a match or if they can introduce you to person who would be a match. ”
however, turning a network kinship into a mentor kinship can be intimidating. How do you make this transition ?
To put it just, by thinking less in terms of finding a mentor, but quite build up relationships. “ I am constantly on the lookout for the next great joining, ” says Jarvis C. Stewart, chair and head strategist of IR+Media, LLC. “ By constantly expanding my network I have surrounded myself with a divers and resourceful group of mentors. Among them early colleagues, employers, and even clients who have at one point or another offered particularly salient insights. ”
This sounds big, but how do you take such a divers network group and narrow it down to one mentor ? Jarvis advises thinking broadly when it comes to picking a mentor—don ’ thyroxine feel the indigence to limit yourself to your field alone. “ My search criteria is elementary : If you are here to teach me, I ’ megabyte here to learn, ” he says .

Use meetup groups to grow your network

Reaching out to those within your existing network is a great start, but when you are on the hound for a mentor, you may need to expand your network. “ Mentors normally gravitate toward outspoken, hardworking individuals. But, sometimes that ’ s not adequate, ” says CJ Johnson, drumhead of creative and commercialize for Buddytruk .
Sites like offer a vehicle for anyone to start any kind of group in your city, and with that comes a kind of networking groups, little commercial enterprise groups, and so on. “ I recommend going to felicitous hour events, networking events, and speaking panels that are within your setting, ” says CJ .

Go to any upcoming events in your field

Is there a local anesthetic conference on an aspect of your technology ? possibly a outstanding local business owner in your discipline is giving a speech ? Attend events like these and use them to make contacts. “ I besides recommend that person do some mugwump research into a field they ’ re concern in and visit some company websites that are within that field, ” says CJ. “ See what upcoming events they have coming up and try to attend. When you attend these events it ’ randomness okay to ask people for their business cards and hired hand out your own vitamin a well. ”
Approaching a electric potential mentor this way takes out the “ cold call ” spirit that an e-mail or a earphone call might have on its own. now, you ’ ve meet and potentially had a brief chat with the person you ’ d be concerned in having as a mentor, and you can start to build that relationship .

Use your alumni network, internship connections, or professors

If you ’ re wondering how to find a mentor while hush in school, you probably have access to enough of potential mentors already ; your professors and any organizations you have completed internships with will make great starting points .
Check out your university ’ randomness commercial enterprise college web site ; they are probable to have an entrepreneurship center or mentorship platform ( living in Oregon I ’ ve naturally focused on two of my local universities, but you ’ ll likely find similar programs for your university ) .
If you ’ ve completed college, your alumni net may be deserving looking into. “ My most recent occupation mentor I found by reaching out to my alumnus net, ” says Tiffany C. Wright, serial entrepreneur and founder of investing firm The Resourceful CEO. “ I met with [ a electric potential mentor ] and he connected me to a number of others. He then invited me to breakfast two weeks former. After that, we agreed to meet for breakfast at 7am every 2nd or 3rd workweek. ”
even if you have no joining to your local university, reaching out to professors in your sphere may be valuable, either in your city or remotely. “ Some years ago, I wanted to develop classes and get them into academic programs. I didn ’ t know a lot about doing that, ” says J. Todd Rhoad, managing director for Bt Consulting .
“ Luckily, I had been reading a set of entrepreneurial articles by a college professor. I contacted him and began a kinship with him. His expertness has been extremely helpful and now we do many activities together, such as writing books, articles, and creating classes. I simply sent him an electronic mail and set up a phone call to discuss my ideas. ”

Join a professional association

“ If you belong to a professional association, that is the inaugural plaza you should look to find a mentor, ” says Susan Bender Phelps. “ Look for person who is not a rival in your market, and who has achieved the grade of success you are aiming for. ”
tiffany agrees : “ I found my first mentor through a business group I belonged to. She was very concern to talk to so I asked her out to dinner ( my regale of course ). At the end of the dinner I asked her to be my mentor and she accepted. ”
professional associations are broadly nonprofit organization groups dedicated to furthering a detail diligence or profession, and as such can be a capital target to find others in your diligence who can potentially serve as mentors. Check out CareerOneStop, which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, to find relevant professional associations for your industry .

Take a long shot with your dream mentor

Is there person in your discipline that you look up to vastly, who you ’ d good love to have as your mentor—but you ’ re worried that they wouldn ’ t be matter to ? That ’ s precisely the person you should be targeting .
Jillian Darlington, godhead of the MomCo App, knew who she wanted as a mentor, but was afraid she was taking a retentive shooting. “ A few months ago, I reached out to one of my idols in the ma space to be a mentor. She founded one of the most popular websites for moms and I wanted to learn from the best, ” Jillian says .
“ I wasn ’ t certain if she would respond, but she did, and actually ended up coming over to my house to meet with me. We are great friends now. I wanted to be able to learn from person that had already accomplished something exchangeable to what I was trying to achieve. ”
Asking person that you sincerely admire to serve as your mentor may feel intimidating, but Jillian suggests going for it. “ I highly recommend that people put themselves out there and find a mentor. never be afraid to reach out to your hero, because they might turn into an incredible supporter equally well, ” says Jillian. “ My experience has been a total ambition total genuine. ”

Join an incubator or accelerator

Startup incubators and accelerators can help a new business mature, and with that comes valuable mentorship from experience entrepreneurs. “ I applied, pitched, and was accepted into BetaBlox —a Kansas City-based inauguration incubator—in June of 2014, ” says Shane Park, CEO of Coinplay. “ After six months of formal mentor and lessons in running a inauguration, my mentors and I check in with each other sporadically. If I have a question, I email them and we set up a suffer depending on the complexity of the consequence. ”
If you are concerned in exploring an incubator or accelerator for your clientele, beginning by seeing what ’ second in your city and determining which one will fit your business best. “ I would recommend entrepreneurs Google inauguration incubators and accelerators in their own township, ” says Shane .
It ’ randomness crucial to note that not all humble businesses will be a good fit for an incubator or accelerator ; they are generally geared toward technical school businesses. “ not everyone will get into one—nor do they exist everywhere, ” says Shane. “ But, if you ’ ra fortunate enough to find one and make it in, the resources and serve provided can truly make a deviation. ”

Take advantage of online resources

In addition to sites like Meetup, there are plenty of on-line resources to help you find a mentor. here are some free resources that are highly recommended :

  • LinkedIn: You can join relevant industry groups on LinkedIn, and either directly inquire with someone you feel would be a good fit, or post to the group at large. The Women’s Mentorship Network is a great example of a general group that is geared toward matching mentors and mentees.
  • Micromentor: This site connects mentors with mentees, for free. You can create a profile, complete a mentor request, and contact mentors.
  • SCORE mentors: Either via email or in person, SCORE connects entrepreneurs with volunteer business mentors.
  • Your local Small Business Development Center: Through the U.S. Small Business Administration, SBDCs provide businesses with financial, business planning, and other advice. While it may be more specific advice and less of a close-knit, mentor/mentee relationship, it may be a good starting point. You can find your local SBDC here.
  • Women’s Business Centers, Veteran’s Business Outreach Centers, and Minority Business Development Agency through the SBA: If you feel that you qualify for one of the above, check to see if you have a local branch.

See besides :Where to Get Feedback on Your Business Pitch block2

13 key tips from entrepreneurs

1. Ask yourself—do you need a coach or a mentor?

“ The basic premise of the mentor relationship is that you seek advice from person who has already surpassed your entrepreneurial goals, ” says personal development bus Zan Hogan of Happy Alley. “ There is an assumption there that the mentor will have teaching or coach skills, based on their professional know. ”
A mentor should serve as person who can teach you, advise you, and pass on their experience. Is this actually what you are looking for ?
Zan suggests that before seeking out a mentor, you make surely that a mentor is actually what you are after. “ Depending on your master needs, it may be more beneficial to plainly seek out person with a specify skill set like a commercial enterprise or transitional coach, for exercise, ” she says.

2. Get to know them first

Don ’ metric ton just startle headfirst into the mentor relationship ; if you ’ rhenium hoping to ask person to be your mentor, get to know them beginning. “ Don ’ t ask people to be your mentor—just start getting to know them, ” says Ryan Naylor, laminitis and president of LocalWork. “ Ask them to grab chocolate or happy hour, ask them about themselves and their business, develop a relationship first. ”
artist and entrepreneur Ann Rea agrees. “ Looking for a mentor is a distribute like looking for a ally who precisely happens to be more experience in one sphere, ” she says. Ann, who by the way was mentored by Caroline Cummings, our VP of product development here at Palo Alto Software, besides advises thinking about the mentor relationship as that of “ a supporter who just happens to possess the master expertness that you desire. ”

3. Never start with the word “mentor”

thus, if you ’ rhenium focusing on establishing a relationship, does that mean you should avoid explicitly asking person to be your mentor ? initially, it might be a good idea .
“ Don ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate function the parole mentor ! ” says Ryan. “ Build this relationship slowly—many people get turned off by the idea of ‘ mentoring ’ because it seems like a adult meter committedness or something they should be charging for as a adviser. ”
Does that mean you should never ask person to be your mentor outright ? not inevitably ; it will depend on the situation. however, consider inaugural focusing on building the relationship, and once it has been established, shift the conversation and making it clear that you would like them to mentor you .

4. Determine if you and your mentor have a good fit

“ What is critically significant is the burst, ” says Tiffany. “ You can determine the suit before making a ball request to person to be your mentor. If there is no suit, at least you garnered more business insights and feedback that you would not have had you not reached out. ”
How do you determine if you and your hope mentor are a good suit ? By knowing what you are looking for, and having a clear imagination, says Jarvis. “ A mentor ’ sulfur advice international relations and security network ’ t one size fits all, and you need to find person who can relate to your entrepreneurial imagination. Just because person is successful doesn ’ triiodothyronine mean they ’ re the right mentor for you. Success in one area does not equate to expertise in another. ”

5. Pick someone who does not have strong “ties” to your business

possibly you ’ ve considered asking one of your investors to be your mentor ; after all, you have a connection, they have expertise in your airfield, and they have an sake in your business .
however, this might not be the best idea. “ You need to find person not emotionally or financially tied to your commercial enterprise, ” says Walter Wise, sales and marketing strategist and administrator coach at BPI Strategy Group .
Why ? “ Because you need to be told what you need to hear not what person thinks you want to hear, ” says Walter. “ Family, friends, partners, and some investors will tend to sugar coat their advice, whereas a real passenger car or mentor should tell it like it is. You need very advice, not fluff. ”

6. Express genuine interest

Make sure you are sincerely interest in what your mentor has to say, and you ’ ll be well on your room to building a strong relationship .
“ When you express a genuine sake in what person else is doing, they ’ ll normally tell you how they did it—and be elated to offer the cognition, ” says David Ward, president of Meticulosity LLC. “ possibly it ’ s a an ego thing, but I think it is because most entrepreneurs are a particular breed who are excited to contribution with early entrepreneurs. ”
This is another quiz of whether or not you and your mentor will be a adept fit—if you find yourself disinterested, it might be a sign that the fit international relations and security network ’ t there .

7. Make yourself worth mentoring

just because you want a mentor, doesn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate intend that you ’ rhenium necessarily good mentee corporeal. How can you make yourself worth mentoring ? Jarvis suggests making certain you look the part, and actually following up. “ Don ’ triiodothyronine strike and run, ” he says. “ If you ask for their card, follow up. ”
Making yourself worth mentoring includes doing your homework and being prepared. “ You have to do the work, ” says Ann. “ I know a serial entrepreneur who has mentored many to millions. If a mentee says that they are going to do something and they don ’ metric ton, he drops them. No second gear chances. He says ‘ I love helping people who are willing to help themselves, but I ’ molarity not wasting my time with people who don ’ t want to work. ’ ”

8. Don’t overlook someone who isn’t in your specific industry

“ You will not find a mail-order mentor, so don ’ metric ton limit yourself to one diligence, ” says Jarvis. Keep yourself open to mentors from industries outside your own ; though they may not be able to get into the specifics of, say, industry analysis with you, they can however be a valuable teacher and adviser .

9. Never pay for a mentor

“ Be sure that the people who you are asking to mentor you do not normally charge for their expertness, ” says Ann .
Paul Dillon of Dillon Consulting Services LLC, adds : “ You should never, never pay up for a mentor. You need to find person who will do this because they want to do it, not because they are compensated to give you rede and advice. ”

10. Confirm that the relationship is a mentor/mentee relationship

But wait—tip # 3 said not to use the term “ mentor, ” correctly ? Well, yes, at first ; it ’ s not a great idea to rush up to your hero at a league and beg them to mentor you before you ’ ve introduced yourself .
however, once you have established a connection and determined that the relationship is a good suit, it ’ mho time to formally ask if they will be your mentor. “ Having an agreed upon, mutually understand mentorship relationship is key to its serving both parties and being productive, ” says Brynn Winegard of Winegard & Company .
not only that, but failing to inform your mentor that you view them as such can potentially damage the relationship. “ Treating person as a mentor that doesn ’ thyroxine know this is how you view them can besides be harmful—they can ’ t be certain what you want from them and you can ’ t be sure what feedback you are getting, ” adds Brynn .

11. Have something to offer back

“ Remember, mentors have early things to do, ” says Ann. “ They are doing you a big fatness favor, so never take them for granted. ”
Make certain that your mentor knows how grateful you are for their time, and see if you can offer them something in return—even if it ’ south deoxyadenosine monophosphate simple as being an ear to bounce ideas off of .
“ The mentor relationship must have value for both parties to be successful, ” says Todd. “ Anything less will end up in a waste of your clock time. ”

12. Take your mentor’s advice with a grain of salt

While your mentor serves as a teacher, guidebook, and adviser, not everything they say is set in pit. “ Your mentor is not you, ” says Brynn. “ They don ’ t have your accurate experiences, perspectives, ideas, needs, wants, goals, nor do you have theirs. ”
Ann adds : “ You don ’ t have to do everything that a mentor suggests. You are the foreman of you. But if they offer you advice and you agree to take action, take action. ”

13. Be clear about your expectations and the end goal

Ann recommends clearly establishing what the mentor/mentee relationship will look like. “ once person agrees to mentor you, then set up very clear boundaries and expectations about what mentor will look like, ” she says .
She advises that both the mentor and mentee agree on the watch points :

  • What specific goal are they helping you work toward?
  • Will you meet once a week, once a month, for how long?
  • Will you email them a regular update?

In accession to establishing clearly what both of your expectations are surrounding the relationship, be clear about your goals. A broad statement such as, “ I want business assistant ” international relations and security network ’ t enough ; make certain to distinctly define what you hope to gain from the mentor relationship .

The takeaway? There’s more than one path.

You know the give voice, “ There ’ second more than one means to skin a cat-o’-nine-tails ? ”
While a little on the ghastly english, the distributor point of the artistic style rings truthful here : There is more than one way to establish a mentor relationship .
While sometimes the perfect position may present itself organically, you may have to “ try on ” respective mentors before you find the fetching relationship.

however, if you let the relationship build by developing a connection foremost and—once a good fit has been determined—establish a mentor relationship with clear expectations and goals, you ’ rhenium well on your way to reaping the benefits of having a business mentor .
How did you find a mentor for your business? 
AvatarBriana Morgaine

Briana Morgaine

Briana is a content and digital market specialist, editor program, and writer. She enjoys discussing business, market, and social media, and is a big fan of the Oxford comma. Bri is a nonmigratory of Portland, Oregon, and she can be found, infrequently, on Twitter .

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