How to find a mentor
One of the most commonly asked questions about mentoring is “How do I find a mentor?” It’s a valid question. It’s not as though there are signs up in shop windows reading ‘MENTOR FOR HIRE!’
But there are many places you can find professional mentors and business coaches, and capable business people with the right experience and background to mentor other business owners.
Here are a few:
Personal and Professional Networks
Often informal mentor relationships are cultivated from within your existing personal and professional networks. Ever find yourself having extended chats about business with your uncle at family barbecues, or a mate at dinner parties? Informal is this type of exchange, but they can be quite productive and could lead to more formal engagement.
Asking around your personal network may yield the right kind of advice. A longtime friend of mine informally and organically started mentoring my partner. This friend is a solicitor of many years experience. My partner was fresh out of law school and needed guidance. The two have been meeting over coffee for several years now. My partner has forged a career in law and they now learn off each other.
Match Matching Platforms
Kindred falls into the category of a mentorship match making platform. It provides a place for mentors and mentees to seek each other out. Across industries, at all stages of the business lifecycle, and across locations. It isn’t based on any particular program and thus specialises in facilitating micro-mentoring relationships, which are task-based and don’t require ongoing responsibility or obligation.
There are other similar platforms across the world such as Micro Mentor, Mentii, and Connect Mentors London, each servicing a different niche or location.
Google is another place to go to find a mentor.
Online Forums, Networking Events, Communities
David Rose, founder of business-investor match making site, Gust, thinks one-on-one mentoring can be excessively time consuming – for both the mentor and mentee – and that the best starting place is soaking up the vast amount of ‘mass mentoring’ resources on offer on Quora, Reddit, LinkedIn, TED Talks, Meetups, and startup clubs and groups.
Sites like Quora are not only a solid source for very specific information (google any question and include the word Quora in your search and more often than not you’ll discover a good, credible answer). The thing that separates Quora from other crowdsourcing platforms is the fact that it is used by some of the brightest, most successful entrepreneurs across the world.
There is a plethora of events, Meetups, and startup groups across Australia. Check these out:
Incubator & Accelerator Programs
A startup or business incubator is an organisation that provides the right conditions for a business to develop and grow. This might include office space at low-rent, access to technology and collaborators, prospective investors and mentors. These organisations vary form being very hands-on to hands off. Some have structured programs that you are accepted into to be involved. Others provide you with the tools and environment you need to go it alone. Some of the more popular Australian incubators and accelerators:
Mentorship & Business Coaching Programs
Business coaching is different from mentoring, as we wrote in a recent post, “Business Coach v Mentor“. All offerings, however, have some similarities in that they work with business owners to grow their businesses.
Mentoring and business coaching programs are highly-structured and are targeted at business owners that have an idea of what they are doing, a viable business concept, but need some structured guidence to take it to the next level. If mentoring match making platforms like Kindred are about micro-mentoring, then mentorship and business coaching platforms are about macro-mentoring. Generally they are expensive up-front and pricing can vary depending on the size of and stage in the business cycle. Here are some of the more popular mentoring and business coaching programs in Australia: