Wednesday, January 27, 2021
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How to Find a Mentor No Matter Your Age or Education

Whether you want to become a millionaire or get your career on a fast track, get a mentor. This is something everyone can and should do. It will accelerate your business’s growth and provide you with very helpful career insights. Here’s how to find a mentor who aligns with your personal vision and goals.

How to Find a Mentor – Career Track or Business Owner

I found my first mentor through a formal program by my local government over 25 years ago, at the dawn of the web. It helped me immensely and I was able to grow my first business, GovCon, quickly to a point where it became a very attractive acquisition candidate for several large companies.

An important note here: I am in technology, my first mentor was in accounting.

Mentors do not have to be in your line of business.

If you are looking for examples of career tracks to follow, then find a mentor in your field so they can give you specific advice and possibly connect you to others in their network.

If you are looking for a mentor to help you grow your business, most business owners can mentor new entrepreneurs regardless of their industry because the issues we face are very similar. The most common problems relate to staffing, financing, marketing, and management – all common to every business.

Today, it’s much easier to get a mentor. Follow these steps to find a mentor (or two or three) that will show you how to blossom.

1. Get on LinkedIn

  • LinkedIn is used by professionals all over the world to stay connected with each other and meet others to form mutually beneficial relationships.
  • There are many executives who use LinkedIn regularly to stay up-to-date on happenings in their professional network.
  • LinkedIn is an ideal starting point as you consider how to find a mentor. This is where your prospective mentors are likely hanging out online.

2. Search for people you would like as your mentor

Look for these characteristics as you do searches on LinkedIn to find a suitable mentor:

  • Local to you – it helps to find a mentor that you can see face to face periodically
  • Job titles that you could see yourself as having in the future
  • Involved with other activities or associations, not just their company
    • This suggests they may be open to being a mentor. People who do not mention outside activities may not have the time to take on a mentor. Focus your search on those who have expressed openness and sharing. That is an indicator that they may be receptive to mentoring you.

3. Send your prospective mentor an email

You can do this directly through LinkedIn, or if you can find their email address by doing a Google search, that’s even better. Here’s what to say in your initial message:

  • Tell them how old you are and that you are eager to learn from them
  • Say that you are looking for a mentor and that you would like to model your career the way they did
  • Ask if they would be open to a 10 minute conversation – or if you could take them out to lunch (if you’re able to do so during a weekday)
  • This should be a very short email – maybe 2 paragraphs

4. Do this for 20 people – yes 20

Most people you contact won’t reply. Don’t take this personally. Some people will decline. The more irons you have in the fire, the better your chances of getting a positive response.

  • When you do connect with someone who is willing to have that initial conversation with you, be prepared with questions
  • Good executives allocate their time wisely so if you’re not on the ball, they won’t invest their future time with you
  • To improve your chances of finding a mentor, close your dialog with an ask, something like this statement that ends in an action item question:
    • “I really appreciate your time very much. I can see that I would learn a lot from you. May I reach out to you a few times a year to check in?”

It’s good to get more than one mentor

  • If you contact 20 people (or more), you will likely have a conversation with more than one potential mentor.
  • The more conversations you have, the better. It’s okay (even good) to have a few mentors at once – you’ll get different perspectives from each person.

If you would like other insights in propelling your business or career, here’s a link to a graduation speech I gave at the University of Maryland several years ago. It includes this tip on how to find a mentor and several other personal growth strategies that will move you forward.

Good luck!

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