Mentorship is crucial in starting your business. I felt very vulnerable asking for help, but I was also eager to learn.
My best advice when it comes to reaching out for a mentor is to be resourceful when it comes how you find mentors. Mentors come in all shapes and sizes. I encourage you to branch out wide in your search for a mentor.
You might have a hard time finding a mentor. Don’t worry. This is normal. Finding a good mentor can be difficult and time consuming. Consider this, the title of mentor can be intimidating for some people. The word implies a level of commitment either emotionally or time-wise. Some people do not feel like they can make that level of commitment.
This is where being resourceful becomes important. Remember that a mentor is someone you can turn to for advice. At the very least, they are resource to answer a couple of questions and give pointers. Sometimes, that is all someone can commit and that’s fine.
I strongly recommend refraining from the phrase “Will you be my mentor”. That phrase can be very intimidating for the receiver.
Instead, I recommend starting with a couple of questions here and there or maybe even an informational interview to get the ball rolling. Take time to learn more about the person and try to build a relationship from there.
Personally, I found my mentors through recommendations, LinkedIn, peers, professors, and networking events. You can also find mentors through online forums and social media support groups. Remember to cast your net wide.
When you approach someone who you think would be a good mentor, reach out to them via email or LinkedIn. Ask them for no more than 15 minutes of their time to answer a few questions. This conversation could happen over the phone, email, or a LinkedIn conversation.
The introduction could go something like this: “Hi. My name is XYZ and I recently started a business. I saw that you have been in the industry for a while. Do you have any recommendations regarding the best [credit card payment processor] to use?”
You can replace the words in the bracket with anything and it does not have to sound exactly like what I stated above, but you get the point. You want the question you ask to be simple and relevant.
If they respond, great! Thank them for their time and take their advice into consideration.
If they do not respond, it’s okay. Move on to another prospect.
A couple weeks later, follow up on that recommendation. For example, “Hi ABC. Thank you for recommending 123 to me. I went through with the recommendation. 123 is great, but now I am having issues with Z. Have you had experience working with Z? If so, what did you do?”
From here, you can start a dialog and ease your way into the relationship. The point is to build a relationship with a professional so you can learn from their experience. That is the purpose of a mentorship.
[WARNING: Be honest in your communication. If you did not take their advice, then do not say that you did. Ask them about their opinion on something else.]
The person you talk to may never actually consider themselves a mentor, but if the relationship continues then that is what they will essentially become.
Keep this in mind, you do not have to meet your mentors in person. I rarely see my mentors in person. (We’re all so busy). Fortunately, you do not have to see someone all the time to have a fruitful mentorship. It is all about communication and consistency.
I wish you the best of luck in your search for a mentor. If you have any questions or concerns, let me know. I’m here to help!