Many times throughout my conversations with other women, we often talked about how mentorship: why do we need a mentor or where to even find one. In my own experience, without my mentors, I don’t think I’ll be where I am today. They shared with me their own experiences and gave me advice on what to look for and what to avoid in my career and business. So yeah, the more reason for you to also find and have a mentor.
Though, it’s a lot easier said than done. Believe me, I know. When I first learn about what mentorship is, I want to have one too. But the question again is: how do you find a mentor?
In my first 2 years of business, I was lucky to have someone offered herself to be my mentor and that was a great experience for both of us. I learned a lot from her. However, because it was both our very first time being in a mentorship relationship, we weren’t sure how to structure it and measure some goals and success from the mentor sessions that we went through together.
A few months after that, I signed up for a mentor program that was offered through a professional women organization that I was part of. This was a lot more structured compared to my first mentorship session since it’s a mentorship program that I also have to pay for a certain amount of fee. I love how the program started the program by asking the mentees about their goals, challenges, and what they would like to get at the end of the program. Overall, my experience on this was great as it was clear to both myself and the mentor about what I need to work on to reach my goals. I was also able to prepare my questions ahead of time to ask the mentor at our monthly check-in calls and report my progress from the last call. It felt more than just a mentorship, more like a mentorship plus accountability program.
Today, as my company grows I don’t have a mentor that I do check-ins with every month. Why? A couple of reasons:
- I grew out of the “starting-out” phase
- I’m looking for more expert advises in a different aspect of my business and career
Over a year ago, I found one viral video content from Chris Do about how to price design services. It obviously intrigued me as it was a very specific advice that I’d love to hear more, directly from the expert. So I started following more of his content and I see him as a leader in the industry, and more importantly as my “mentor”. See, the thing about mentorship in today’s digital age, it doesn’t always have to be a one-on-one engagement or conversations. If you found ways to connect with leaders in your industry or people that you admire and are available to mentor you, that’s fantastic. But chances are, most of those people live a busy life, and even if they offer a one-on-one mentorship, their pricing may be out of your budget range.
However, often times they would share their insights and knowledge through other channels like speaking at events, writing a book, being interviewed on a podcast, producing video contents, etc. Take advantage of those! Expand your reach into finding your mentor beyond the traditional one-on-one mentor-mentee relationship.
Going back to the essence of this post, what are your options in finding a mentor? Here are some tips from me to help you get started.
01. Cold Outreach on LinkedIn
No doubt that LinkedIn is a great tool to find and connect with other professionals. Utilize this if you want to find a specific mentor with specific career and experiences and reach out to them directly to be your mentor. Bonus if you already have someone if your circle that can help make the introduction to them so it can improve your chances in connecting with them (and potentially get a yes for the mentorship).
02. Online platforms
If a cold outreach on LinkedIn isn’t something that you’re comfortable with, try an online mentorship platform like Rookie Up is great because you’ll have the option to explore a wide selection of mentors based on who you want to talk to. Although the platform to book your mentor(s) isn’t free, it’s definitely convenient without you having to feel awkward asking for mentorship.
03. Mentoring Programs
Another great option to find a mentor is through mentoring programs. If you live in Chicago, there are a plethora of mentoring programs offered for women. Some are free but most are with a fee. The greatest thing about mentoring programs is that it’s structured for you. You may need to do your own homework through the program. This is great if you prefer to be guided on the mentorship rather than figuring out what you need or want to do/ask throughout your mentorship.
Here are some mentoring programs that I know around the Chicagoland area:
- Chicago Innovation Women Mentoring Co-op
- Executive Women’s Mentorship Initiative
- AIGA Mentor Program
Mentorship programs for young girls:
04. Live Mentoring Events
Want a mentoring session that’s more casual? Try attending live mentoring events. There are a few of them happening throughout the year in some cities. Our annual speed mentoring event is also a great one to consider as we limit the mentors and mentees each year so we can provide the intimate environment for them to connect with up to 3 mentors at the event. Check out when the next one is here.
05. Other “Mentor”: Books, Podcast, Video, eCourses
I mentioned this earlier in the post. Think about someone that you really look up to in your industry or select expert that you have found to be resourceful for you in improving your life or career or even your business. Find out if they have other channels where they share their insights and advice like books, podcast, videos, or even eCourses. I’d also recommend you follow them on social media to see the latest advice or tips that they are sharing. Most of the time, these resources are your free “mentor” and are quickly digestible-information for you to start implementing in your day to day life.
BONUS: Ask Your Community
Have you ever thought about asking your community to be your mentor? They could be your peer or coworker, your manager, or other people in your community that inspire you. Some people have asked me directly to be a mentor and hey, I said yes. So, look around you. Your mentor may be closer to you than you think.
That’s it. Hopefully, these will help you in your search to find a mentor. Remember, you don’t have to stick with the traditional one-on-one mentorship. There are tons of options out there. Just be creative with your search (and who you ask too!). Additionally, if you’re looking to have me as your mentor, you can easily book me for a mentor session here, or catch me at some of the live mentoring events at our Creative Women’s Co. speed mentoring event.