YEC Women Q&A: How Do I Find A Suitable Mentor?
By Natalie MacNeil (Co-Founder, YEC Women)
The following answers are provided by YEC Women. Co-Founded by Natalie MacNeil and Scott Gerber, YEC Women is an initiative of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the country’s most promising young entrepreneurs.
The YEC promotes entrepreneurship as a solution to youth unemployment and underemployment and provides its members with access to tools, mentorship, and resources that support each stage of a business’s development and growth.
Find A Suitable Mentor — Answer #1 — Attend Industry Talks
“Attend all talks, networking events, speakers, panels, etc. that relate to your industry, and make a point to go up and introduce yourself to the speakers at the end, give them your business card, and then follow up with them by email afterwards. Ask if it would be ok to contact them from time to time for advice and to keep them posted on your progress- they will probably say yes.”
– Stephanie Kaplan (Co-Founder, CEO & Editor-in-Chief, Her Campus Media)
Find A Suitable Mentor — Answer #2 — Find a Genuine Supporter
“If you meet someone who you think you would like as a mentor, take some time to get to know them before requesting their regular input. You want to make sure that they’re most interested in helping you achieve your goals, not making a replica of themselves. The ideal is to find someone who makes you feel respected and empowered not uncomfortable or constricted.”
– Elizabeth Saunders (Time Coach & Trainer, Real Life E®
Find A Suitable Mentor — Answer #3 — Use SCORE
“SCORE is a great resource that partners with the Small Business Administration to provide free mentorships to those who need it. They are great at producing high quality mentors and advice.”
– Vanessa Van Petten (CEO, Science of People)
Find A Suitable Mentor — Answer #4 — Further Your Education.
“Even after you’re knee-deep in your industry, it can benefit you to seek out new sources of continuing education: classes, post-college internships, informational interviews, etc. Not only will you continue learning, but you’ll also have the opportunity to meet those who could eventually become colleagues and mentors. Establish and maintain those valuable connections.”
– Steph Auteri (Founder, Word Nerd Pro)
Find A Suitable Mentor — Answer #5 — Clarify Your Goals
“The more time you spend clarifying your goals and desired outcomes, the easier it will be to articulate what you need from mentorship. Most ideal mentors are very busy so one of the best ways to get on their radar is to be specific in your requests. If you clearly communicate your intentions, your chances of success increase.”
– Lisa Nicole Bell (CEO, Inspired Life Media Group)
Find A Suitable Mentor — Answer #6 — Look for the Help You Need Now
“There’s no rule that says you can only have one mentor at a time, let alone one mentor ever. Especially if you’re building a business that isn’t run of the mill, it’s unlikely that one mentor alone is going to be up on all different aspects of your business. So rather than trying to find one perfect mentor, take a look for the mentor that can help you with what’s currently on your plate.”
– Thursday Bram (Principal, Hyper Modern Consulting)
Find A Suitable Mentor — Answer #7 — Look to Your Extended Network
“Find someone who is in your same (or a similar) field or industry. This person should have similar goals to your own. Take the initiative to contact the individual, as you’ll benefit most from the relationship. (Although, don’t think that your potential mentor won’t benefit at all —- they will.)
– Heather R. Huhman (Founder & President, Come Recommended)
Find A Suitable Mentor — Answer #8 — Use Twitter
“You can connect with just about anyone these days on Twitter and you’d be surprised how receptive people are. Send a tweet to your dream mentor and let him or her know why they inspire you. I have connected with three mentors on Twitter that I otherwise may never have had the chance to meet and learn from.”
– Natalie MacNeil (Founder & Editor-in-Chief, She Takes on the World)
Find A Suitable Mentor — Answer #8 — You Already Have a Mentor
“I’ve often found that my mentors have popped into my business life without me seeking them out. In fact, every encounter I’ve had in my business’ history has been some sort of learning lesson. Often times, the people who are teaching us the most, sometimes more than a hired or sought after mentor, are those who are right in front of us – we just aren’t seeing them in that particular light.”
– Erin Blaskie (Founder, BSETC)
Editor’s note: Got a question for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below.
About the guest blogger: Natalie MacNeil is an Emmy Award winning Producer at the digital media company she co-founded, Imaginarius. She passionately works to get more women into business in her role as Co-Founder of YEC Women with Scott Gerber and through her blog, She Takes on the World. Natalie is frequently quoted and interviewed in the media discussing entrepreneurship, personal branding for women, and new media. Follow her on Twitter at @nataliemacneil.