The business world can be competitive, and “making it” as a business can be complicated and challenging. However, there is one thing that can make the bumpy road of starting a business a little smoother. And successful entrepreneurs have attributed this one thing to their success – this is how they “made it.”
This one thing is finding a mentor. The challenge then becomes: how do I find a one?
There are a few key things to consider when looking for a mentor:
Formal or Informal?
Mentor relationships can be formal (someone who meets with you on a regular basis in a paid or pro bono arrangement) or informal (someone you call on ad hoc when you need help with a decision or an issue).
Demand exceeds supply
Regardless of the kind of mentoring relationship you are seeking, one of the biggest issues you will face is that there is a shortage of great mentors.
With more and more people catching on to what an important part having the right mentors plays in their business, competition for mentors is increasing.
Sure, there are a lot of inspiring entrepreneurs who really want to give back and mentor others. It’s just that many of them report being asked to mentor more people than they possibly have the capacity to help.
So, with all that competition, what can you do to find a really great mentor?
5 Ways To Find Your Ideal Mentor
1. Don’t be limited by thinking your mentor has to be working in your industry:
Your mentor doesn’t have to be in the same industry as you (in fact, some would argue it’s better if they are NOT).
In many cases, the issues you are facing are common across many industries, so a smart, experienced mentor with business experience is likely to be able to help you, even if they’ve never worked in your specific niche before. Plus, a mentor from outside your industry is also likely to ask different questions than someone who may have spent years working within the same systems and structures as you.
That means you can throw the net a little wider and look at other industries for someone who may be able to help you.
2. Put the word out:
Let your peer group know you are looking for a mentor. Perhaps you have colleagues who are already being mentored – they can be a great place to start. Share the news with appropriate people in your network – they may know someone who will be ideal for you.
3. Approach someone you admire:
You can also approach people who you know/admire to mentor you – for example, someone you work with, a thought leader you respect, even the relative of a friend.
Whilst it may be a challenge for busy people to have the spare time to undertake a formal mentoring process (particularly for more prominent mentors such as authors, renowned experts and CEOs etc who are likely to be highly sought-after as mentors) it is worth finding out.
4. Attend seminars, conferences and training courses:
Not only do we believe continuous education is great for your business, these forums can also be great places to meet and find potential mentors.
5. Seek the support of a professional mentoring service:
There are a number of professional mentoring services that can match you to a mentor.
These services can be a great shortcut to finding a mentor, particularly if you’re busy and don’t have the time to do the legwork yourself.
It’s important you choose a reputable team with access to the kinds of mentors who are going to help move you forward.
Sometimes these services can be expensive and/or lock you in to long-term contracts, so make sure you are informed.