The best business advice comes from someone who has already been there -- but how can you find a mentor who will share their knowledge? We round up the best online resources and real-world tactics.
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Use LinkedIn As A Search Resource
As a social network focused solely on professional achievements, LinkedIn is the obvious place to begin seeking out a mentor. Before you can begin doing that, make sure your own LinkedIn profile is fully optimised and up-to-date. A profile that's out-of-date, riddled with errors or generally inactive isn't likely to suggest to a potential mentor that you're worth the time investment.
Once your profile is cleaned up and organised, there are two approaches you can use:
- Reaching out directly to existing connections and asking them if they'd be willing to help mentor you. Don't do this if they're a brand-new connection. Instead, demonstrate your potential value by staying active on LinkedIn, sharing relevant resources and participating in conversations.
- Asking a general question amongst your network: "Anyone able to recommend a potential mentor?" Ideally, make this question as specific as possible: highlight the areas where you can see opportunities for growth and where you'd like to improve your own knowledge.
For more ideas, check out tips on building a stronger professional network with LinkedIn.
Join Industry Associations And Attend Events
While LinkedIn will give you broad reach, it won't allow you to meet face-to-face with new individuals. For that, joining a relevant industry group and attending events remains the best approach. If you're nervous about the prospect of chatting to strangers at one of these get-togethers, check out our guide to building a professional network.
If you can't find a specific industry association for your line of business or it doesn't seem to have regular events in your location, MeetUp is a great resource for finding events. Don't just look in your own speciality either: if one of the areas you lack expertise is technology, for example, there are plenty of meet-ups that will expose you to new tech ideas and potential mentor leads.
Remember: You Can Have More Than One Mentor
While the traditional vision of mentorship is an ongoing relationship, that doesn't always have to be the case. A mentor who helps you chat through a specific problem over a single coffee can still be helpful. Bear that in mind when seeking out a mentor -- make it clear that you're not looking for a massive time commitment.
Don't Try To Completely Emulate Your Mentor
A mentor is a valuable source of advice, but that doesn't mean you have to copy everything they do. In our guide to mistakes that mentors should avoid, we point out that mentors should not be trying to create a "mini-me": individuals aren't alike, and businesses aren't either. The same advice applies in reverse: while you should take everything your mentor tells you on board, that doesn't mean you have to try and exactly replicate their business. It's the combination of their experience and your own ideas that will make the difference.
Have your own tips for finding a good mentor? We'd love to hear them in the comments.
Mentor picture from Shutterstock