Mentorship Support for Entrepreneurs

How to Find a Mentor

Sometimes mentorships happen casually. Maybe you start off as friends or colleagues and a natural mentor/mentee relationship develops. Sometimes the mentor sees potential and promise in a mentee and believes it’s worthwhile to nurture the relationship by offering advice or a becoming a sounding board for their ideas. However, in many cases the mentee has to actively seek out the experience and advice of a mentor. So, how can you find a mentor?

How do you find a mentor?

Before a you seek a mentor, it’s helpful to think about what you’ll bring to the table. First, you should think about your own values and what you would want in an ideal mentor. You should also consider your personal work style and how it might fit with different mentoring approaches. Think though your past approaches to work and projects - do you need structured, directive guidance, or do you prefer gentle supervision? Finally, you should think about any knowledge and skill gaps you’d hope that your mentor could fill.

Once a you’ve given thought to your values, work style, and needs, you are ready to develop SMART goals that can help guide your mentorship. Creating specific, written goals for three months, one year, and five years can be helpful for you personally, and it can also help you clearly communicate those goals to a potential mentor. Goals should relate to the knowledge and skill gaps identified and they can be specific or broad. Setting goals will help you present your needs to potential mentors. A mentee who is clear about the advice they need and sets specific, time-bound goals demonstrates that they are responsible for their own growth, and this can a mentor more likely to want to invest time and energy in helping you develop and reach your goals.

In summary, you should follow the steps below to prepare:

  1. Prepare to find a mentor

    • Clarify your values

      • What motivates you?

      • What values and attributes do you respect in relationships?

      • Are there personal preferences such as gender, location, or personality that important to you?

    • Identify your work style and habits

      • Do you like to work on things a little at a time or in short, intense sprints?

      • How do you like to receive feedback?

      • Do you prefer in-person meetings, phone calls, texts, or video chat?

    • Identify areas you would like to develop, for example:

      • Personal: Creating work–life balance, building confidence

      • Professional development: Networking, establishing goals

      • Skill development: Communicating, managing time, managing business operations

    • Write down SMART goals and summarize specific opportunities sought

  2. Where do you find a mentor?

    • Create an account and let connect you to a mentor! Because we believe that success shouldn’t be determined by the community you happen to be born into, we built to connect our community of entrepreneurs and supporters across geographic boundaries. Through virtual meetings and digital resources, we connect young entrepreneurs to each other and a community of supporters.

    • Meet with people you know

    • Get recommendations from friends, family and colleagues

    • Ask people you meet with who else they recommend

    • Attend industry or professional networking events

    • Business people generally like to stay active, so consider joining fitness classes and groups

    • Cold reach out or reach out to people you don’t have personal connection with. You can search online and use resources like social media to identify people you believe can help you

  3. Create a list of all potential mentors

  4. Shorten your list and make sure to lookout for these qualities

    • Seems to have great work/life balance and is available and accessible to meet with you on a consistent basis

    • Provides opportunities and encourages mentee to take risks

    • Is passionate about their field and craft (this often translates into a desire to teach)

    • Helps mentee develop their own agenda

    • Has prior mentoring experience

    • Has a visible, verifiable track record of success in the area you want to grow in

    • Is thoughtful and considerate, and doesn't make up assured answers to questions just to appear knowledgeable.

    • Has been mentored in the past and understands how valuable mentorship is to someone who's just starting out.

  5. Ask someone to be your mentor!

Pro Tip

Anyone you meet can potentially be you mentor so don’t be afraid to consider people you already know, their connections and completely new people.