The word “mentor” can stir up a lot of emotions for the career-driven launcher. If you have a mentor, the word probably makes you happy. If you don’t have one, the word probably makes you feel uncomfortable, pressured and lacking.
Our most-asked question on The Launch Youniversity Podcast is: How do I find a mentor? (That very question, in fact, is what gave the Launch You team the idea to start a podcast.)
It’s an often-asked question because everyone tells you you need one. Most successful entrepreneurs have stories about a person who took them under their wing. Most intrapreneurs can tell you about the amazing boss who encouraged them to take some amazing risks. But unless a mentor just falls into your lap, where do you find all these wise people who will give you career advice, speak in memorable quotes and change your life all over a coffee meeting?
What if we told you to stop looking? Yes, stop your search for a mentor.
Instead of focusing on who can provide value to you, shift your focus to how you can provide value to others. This means building genuine relationships with other business owners, leaders, peers, and members of your community.
Here are a few specific ideas to get you started:
- Go to industry-specific events and conferences with other business owners. Introduce yourself to the people around you and engage them in quality conversations. Don’t be afraid to ask them about any questions you have, and in return, share any advice you may have for them.
- Ask a small group of peers to get lunch together. Come up with some questions ahead of time and go around the table and share your answers. Questions like: What are your long-term career aspirations? What’s your biggest obstacle in getting there? What kind of work inspires you? Watch as natural connections are made and mutually helpful relationships are formed.
- Attend a local chamber of commerce meeting and get to know the other business owners in your city or town. Stay consistent with your attendance and build relationships. You’ll be surprised at who you meet and how an unexpected conversation can put you in contact with a person you’d like to talk to.
Don’t let a mentor void shake your confidence. Stop stressing about the when and how and instead, focus on building genuine relationships with others. One day, you’ll look up and realize you have several mentors in your corner.