Where can you find a business mentor
So you may understand the importance of having a mentor, but where on earth do you find one? The list below will help you explore all your connections to find your new mentor.
You’ve probably been told a thousand times before, but you have to start networking. The majority of the time, it is about who you know and then what you know will help too! Find social events, speed networking/mentoring opportunities and attend as many talks in your field as you can. Just brush up on your business card, dress appropriately and master the art of conversation.
Don’t be afraid to exploit your current connections too. Friends, families and old colleagues might be able to introduce you to the right people.
Remember, you should start networking as early as physically possible. You never know who might help you find or will become your future mentor.
Don’t know where to start? Sites like Meetup are great hubs to discover what’s going on in your local area.
Alumni and University Connections
Universities provide a rich network of diverse people. Simply by attending, you will be thrown into the talent pool of alumni and thus, have connections to a number of professionals from various fields. Whether the person you wish to contact was your pint buddy on campus or graduated 10 years before you, the alumni network gives you a chance to get in touch with a potential mentor or someone who can introduce you to one.
PhD students, professors and researchers all flock to Universities to further develop their field. It is an active hive of experts and specialists that are accessible. Check out your local University and see if there is anyone of interest to network with. They may introduce you to others or they may be the perfect person for you.
Lastly, many UK Universities have innovation centres that may be able to help. Keep in mind: you aren’t networking to find THE perfect mentor, you’re trying to find relevant people that could put you in touch with a potential mentor.
Professional associations are a great place to find like-minded people as well as giving yourself a professional edge. Good websites to take a look at are IOEE (Institute Of Enterprise and Entrepreneurs), Total professions and the UK Government approved list of associations.
Incubators and Accelerators
Incubators and accelerators are fantastic opportunities to get your startup off the ground. You are surrounded by people in the same boat as you and have access to a variety of experts. Some even provide mentors for you.
Incubators and accelerators are completely dependent on your area. Research what each one provides and what you have to give them.
Some may call this a long shot, but don’t be scared to contact your entrepreneurial idol. The worst that can happen is they’ll say no and that’s that. On the other hand, they might leap at an opportunity to share their expertise in an interesting startup. You never know until you try.
If you aren’t quite ready for the social step of meeting someone face to face then there is always the online option. For the more shy entrepreneurs, try looking for potential mentors on business sites such as LinkedIn. If someone shows interest, then go ahead and organise a meeting.
Remember, the most qualified and successful individual won’t always be the best mentor. You need to find someone with a genuine interest in your business that you get along with. If there are personality clashes, you’re going to have a hard time. They shouldn’t be lured in by financial incentives. Similarly, they are giving up their time to help you. Always be courteous and don’t assume you’re the priority on their agenda.
Good luck with the mentor hunt. Trust me, it’ll be worth it!