Business mentors can act as guides and advisors on your path to success. While you may recognize the value of mentors, finding a mentor is not always a simple task. If you are interested in finding a business mentor but don’t know where to start, here are nine spots to get you started. You might already know your mentor and just have not realized it yet!
1. The Office
You already go to work every day, and when you get there you likely find an office full of people, some with far more experience than you. If you have a strong relationship with your boss, a leader in a nearby department, or any other more experienced person at your office who has experience you wish to emulate, they could be a great mentor.
Of course, if you don’t love your industry or plan to leave it when starting your own business, you may not want to find a mentor at work. But if you like what you do and want to focus and build your career trajectory, you should absolutely consider finding a business mentor at your office.
2. Alumni Associations
If you live in the same city as your high school or college, you can likely attend alumni networking events and connect with others who went to your same school. While it is a loose connection, many successful graduates are happy to help other alumni reach the same success in their career.
Even if you live out of town, many large universities have alumni chapters across the country. Going to football or basketball game watch parties is a fun way to meet others who went to the same school. Reach out to your alumni association or career office to learn more about how you can connect and get involved.
3. Professional Trade Groups
Nearly every industry has a professional trade organization or two. Whether your background is in marketing, engineering, or plumbing, there is a trade group out there for you! You might also find specific groups for different demographics, like women business owners. If there is a licensing organization for your industry, for example the Association of Realtors for real estate agents, it is easy to find them and get started.
If you don’t know any professional groups for your industry, Google can help you find what organizations operate in your area. Just search for your industry and you will likely find many options. I searched for “finance writer organizations” myself and found dozens of groups for writers, and some specific for my narrow finance niche. If I can find something that specific, you can too.
4. Chambers of Commerce
A Chamber of Commerce is a non-profit organization in nearly every American city focused on helping local businesses. Businesses can join the Chamber for an annual fee, giving that business access to networking events with other members, ribbon cuttings with new businesses, events with local government leaders, and more.
What does access to all of those successful business and government leaders give you? Access to a potential mentor! When you look for a mentor at the Chamber, you know that they will be a local business leader, already engaging in helping grow and improve the business community through his or her involvement. This is the type of person who is most likely to be interested in mentoring an up-and-coming business leader like you.
5. Coworking Spaces
Coworking is a term for shared office spaces most popularly used by those in the startup and tech communities. Many coworking offices are locally and independently owned and operated, though you can also find coworking through large chains like WeWork.
In addition to holding solo workers and offices, coworking generally includes some networking, social, and education events from time to time, which is a perfect opportunity to chat with and seek out a new business mentor. Even if you don’t find a mentor, you will likely find it a great place to get work done and connect with like minded entrepreneurs.
6. Small Business Development Centers
Small Business Development Centers, or SBDCs, are business resource centers affiliated with the United States Small Business Administration, or SBA, the same organization that approves and administers SBA loans. Each SBDC is affiliated with a university or development agency, and provides free and low-cost resources and training for small business owners and founders.
Like coworking, SBDCs tend to attract the type of people you could look to as a business mentor. After all, the people who go to an SBDC are most likely fellow business owners and individuals with a history of business success. That sounds just like the type of person who would be interested in mentoring an up and coming business owner like you. Find your local SBDC here.
SCORE is a nationwide non-profit with more than 10,000 volunteers and support from the Small Business Administration. With 300 local chapters plus an online presence, one of SCORE’s primary missions is connecting budding business innovators with business mentors. So if you want a mentor, you know SCORE is a good place to look!
Mentoring is available in-person or online via email or video. SCORE also provides resources like workshops, education materials, and templates you can use in your business. Because everything is free or very inexpensive, you have plenty to gain and very little to lose. If you are focused solely on finding a mentor but don’t know any potential mentors already, SCORE is a good place to start.
I can say without any hesitation that I would not be running a successful online business if it were not for business conferences. The conference that had the most impact in my life is one focused on finance and the media. In fact, that is how I connected with Nav to write for this blog! While that is likely not relevant to most business industries, there is a conference out there for you.
Like some of the other places mentioned on this list, conferences put you in the same room as others with the same goals, struggles, and successes you are dealing with on a regular basis. Finding someone with years of experience in the same industry is easy at a conference. If you can build the right relationships, you’ll find yourself with a mentor in no time.
9. Friends & Family
When thinking about potential business mentors, don’t discount friends and family who are already a part of your life. Maybe you have an uncle or cousin who would be a good mentor. Perhaps an old high school friend’s mother is a successful business leader, and would be thrilled to hear from her kid’s old friend and help you along your journey.
One big benefit of choosing a family member or friend is that they already know you, care about you, and want you to succeed. A mentor that you already have a relationship with can be a huge asset, as they know what makes you tick and can help you be more open and honest about your strengths and weaknesses than someone you just met.
Business Mentors & Success
The site Micromentor shared that business founders with a mentor are more likely to earn more and build a long-lasting business than founders without a mentor. While it can be easy to discount the power of advice from a seasoned business veteran, it may be all the difference between a successful venture and an idea that never fully comes to fruition.
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