How to Find a Business Mentor that Meets Your Needs

  • Jan 30
How to Find a Business Mentor that Meets Your Needs

Often, the best way to move forward in your career is with the help of someone who’s been where you are and come out on the other side. It might be a seasoned coworker, personal friend, or complete stranger – someone who understands how to guide you along. However, knowing how to find a business mentor can be difficult and even intimidating. Especially if you’re not used to asking for help.

But if you’re caught in the in-between, wondering whether it’s actually worth pursuing, consider these statistics on mentoring.

  • 84% of Fortune 500 companies have mentoring programs
  • 90% of Fortune 250 companies have mentoring programs
  • 100% of Fortune 50 companies have mentoring programs

In other words, the top businesses in the U.S. all incorporate some type of mentoring, guiding employee growth and success.

Still, knowing that you should find a mentor doesn’t make it easy to get started. So, we’ve put together a short guide that will help you understand how to find a business mentor that can help shape your journey.

Understanding Your Needs

Of course, the first step before ever looking for a specific mentor is understanding what you need out of the relationship. After all, different individuals will be more suited to help with different areas, depending on your needs. And if you can’t articulate what those are, it’s like stumbling around in the dark, hoping you won’t trip.

Naturally, your needs will be intensely individual – they differ from one person to another. Perhaps you need someone to help you better understand the industry you’re trying to excel within. Maybe you need explicit help developing stronger leadership skills or understanding aspects of strategic planning.

Whatever the case, you need to have an honest understanding of what it is you want to accomplish and what areas you need to develop. That way, when it comes to choosing a mentor, you find one who can best help your specific situtation.

Different Types of Mentors

Just as there are different individual needs, different mentors bring their own specialized focuses into the relationship. So, after discovering what it is you hope to accomplish, as well as articulating your needs, you should figure out what type of teacher suits you best.

For instance:

  • Industry Experts – Individuals who have a strong grasp on a particular industry, who have essential knowledge on important topics. Often, they’re leaders or influential figures who are already well respected.
  • Successful Entrepreneurs – Business leaders who have successful taken ideas into the market and flourished.
  • Specialized Mentors – People with knowledge of specific, core skills, roles, or career types (i.e., marketing, human resources, leadership).

Of course, there are plenty of other types of mentors, but these represent a few of the most common. Ultimately, the sort of mentor that works best for your circumstances will depend on your needs as well as the kind of personality type you work best with.

So, in recognizing your goals, ensure you select a mentor who has the capabilities, skills, and knowledge to guide you.

How to Find a Business Mentor

Finally, we come to the core question – where do you look to find a business mentor?

The answer to this question largely depends on your individual situation, and unfortunately, there’s no cut-and-dry answer. Sometimes, opportunities may present themselves and other times, you might need to go out of your way. However, there are at least several opportune places to search for someone to help you.

The first is networking events. Plenty of organizations exist to foster stronger communities of businesspeople, even from different industries. For example, many chambers of commerce host events to help different professionals and entrepreneurs meet and partner. Paying attention to these sorts of networking events can help you find someone who has relevant knowledge and experience to your situation.

Alternatively, you might attend industry-specific conferences, particularly if you hold a licensed business designation. CPAs, for instance, have multiple opportunities through local and nationwide events to network with other professionals. So, participating in these opportunities is a great way to meet others who might be willing and able to mentor you.

Of course, there are other ways to find business mentors – joining relevant social media groups, enrolling in mentorship programs, and even looking within professional organizations. Again, it all comes down to your needs and how comfortable you are going out of your way to find one.

Approaching Potential Mentors

Once you’ve found an individual who has the necessary experience and knowledge, it’s time to approach them about a mentorship. Now, that’s often easier said than done, particularly if they’re extremely experienced. There might be fears of wasting their time or anxiety about what they’ll say. But at the end of the day, most people want to pass on their understanding. Truly successful people want to help others succeed as well.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you go in unprepared. Make sure you have a compelling introduction for yourself, and potentially of more importance, demonstrate genuine interest. If you seem nonchalant or uncaring, it can come across as lazy or lackadaisical.

Instead, show yourself to be attentive, invested and humble enough to learn. At the same time, outline what it is you hope to get out of the mentorship, and how you think they can help you in particular. After all, they know themselves better than you do. If they feel unequipped to adequately guide you, they may be able to point you toward someone else who can.

Overall, approaching a potential mentor requires confidence. They might reject your proposal, but it isn’t always a bad thing. They might not have the time, or perhaps they already have another mentee. What doesn’t work for the mentor won’t work for the student. But keep trying, and eventually you’ll find the right person.

Evaluating Compatibility

Even after a potential mentor has said “yes”, you have a lot of ground to cover. What might at first seem like the perfect fit could turn out to be a dead end for your goals. And in that case, you might need to opt for a different guide. However, there are also times when a mentorship might initially seem incompatible and end up wildly helpful. It takes a bit of discernment on the part of both participants.

In the initial stages of the mentorship, you should work to establish a strong communication style, discover availability, and highlight shared values. Doing this early on will help cement the relationship and serve as guidelines for both you and your teacher.

Ultimately, these things might change the further into the relationship you get. What starts as purely professional may take on a more personal tone eventually. Alternatively, a casual start might evolve into a more structured partnership. It all comes down to the people involved and what you both hope to get out of it.

Don’t Give Up

We’ve already mentioned it once, but it bears saying again – don’t give up, even if you’re rejected by one potential mentor. In fact, if someone turns you down, that’s the best thing they could do for you. Because had they said “yes”, they likely wouldn’t have been a good fit.

Remember, mentors should understand whether the skills and knowledge they have will truly help you. So, rejection isn’t always a statement on their view of you. Sometimes, it may be an admission of their own inadequacy to help you meet your personal goals.

Whenever this happens, stand up, brush yourself off, and keep looking. Because eventually you’ll find the right mentor who can help meet the needs of the relationship and guide you to successful ends.

Check Out Our Virtual Mentorship

We’ll say this up-front – a virtual, impersonal mentorship is no substitute for the real thing. However, this sort of simulation experience can help prepare you for an actual mentoring relationship. So, if you’re still unsure, feel free to check out our course called Shadow a CEO.

It provides a helpful overview of the life of a corporate leader. And while it isn’t, strictly speaking, a mentorship, it offers a glimpse into how one might function – a leader passing down valuable and helpful knowledge.

Ultimately, every business professional can benefit from a mentorship. And part of the process eventually might mean becoming a mentor yourself. So, make sure you know how to find a business mentor who fits your style and helps you grow into your full potential.

Article written by Braden Norwood

Last updated January 30, 2024