Finding a mentor: Where to look and what to look for

5 min read
Brenda Barron

Running your own business can be exciting and intimidating at the same time. As a beginner, you might feel inexperienced and inadequate and even the most experienced of business owners can experience self-doubt.

Finding a mentor can yield continued guidance, support, advice, and insight that will help you get ahead much quicker and save you hours on learning the ins and outs of your new career the hard way.

In this article, we’ll discuss what qualities should you look for in a mentor and where to find one.

Qualities to keep in mind when looking for a mentor

A mentor is someone who has the experience that you’re lacking and is willing to pass it on onto you. Unlike a consultant, they won’t charge you a fee for their mentoring. In fact, many relationships that started out as mentorships turn into friendships.

Your mentor should ideally be someone whose career you admire and who has similar personal and professional values as your own.

When you set out finding a mentor, there are a few key qualities you should look for.

  • Find someone with a successful career in your field, rather than someone who is just starting out. That way, your mentor will have the necessary experience to understand how the industry works nor can they advise you on how to move up in the ranks.
  • Your mentor should be friendly, have the ability to listen and have a positive attitude necessary to encourage you.
  • Choose a mentor that has passion for their field/work that translates into desire to teach and help those who are just starting out.
  • Look for someone who has availability for meetingson a regular basis. The last thing you want is a mentor who can never be around when you need guidance.
  • Your mentor should treat you as an equal, provide you with the support when you need it but also challenge you to continue developing yourself as well as help you make tough decisions when you need to.
  • Look for someone who has been mentored in the past because the chances are they will have a better understanding of the value mentorship can provide.

7 places to find a mentor

Once you know what qualities to look for it’s time for finding a mentor. Here are a few places to start your search.

1. Your workplace

If you’re launching your business as a sidehustle, then your current workplace can provide a potential mentor. Look for a senior employee that started out on the similar path as you and made their way up. Someone who created their own business before joining your company at a senior level would be ideal.

2. Networking events

Another great way to find mentors is to use Meetup or Eventbrite and find local networking opportunities in your career field. All you have to do is sign up for events that relevant to your chosen field, attend them, and make genuine connections with others in your industry. At the moment, many networking events will be run virtually, but don’t let that put you off. It’s still possible to start building connections that will form the basis of a mentoring relationship.

4. LinkedIn and LinkedIn Groups

Given that LinkedIn is meant to connect professionals, it’s only natural to use the network as well as its Groups feature to find potential mentors.

Remember to be active in a group and provide value, rather than jumping in and immediately asking for a mentor.

Get to know the members and connect with those who you think would be a good mentor. Then send them an invitation request and start to form a relationship.

5. Volunteer events

It’s not uncommon for those who are successful to spend their time volunteering. Consider using a network such as Do It to find volunteer opportunities in your area. Once you start attending on a regular basis, you’ll be able to connect with other regulars, learn more about them, and expand your network from there. Of course, Covid-19 means the volunteering landscape currently looks very different, but it’s still something to bear in mind.

6. Online communities and forums

Don’t ignore other online communities. Forums geared for career professionals or even Facebook groups or Twitter chats can be a great place to meet potential mentors. You can use the search function and use your industry’s keywords to find relevant groups and chats.

If you’re serious about finding a mentor though, be on the lookout for groups with fewer members that have a request to join policy.

Usually, they have less chances of being filled up with spammy posts and random members that have nothing to do with your field.

7. Your community

Finally, don’t forget to look around your community. Community business groups are a great way to learn and build connections. Look to see if such a group exists in your area. If it doesn’t, you could always try to build connections with local businesses that interest you.

Take your business to the next level with a mentor

Finding a mentor who will encourage you and challenge you to grow both professionally and personally can be great for your business. Use the tips above for finding a mentor who will guide you towards success in your new career.