- Developing a strong relationship with the right mentor is key in your early career.
- Entrepreneur Jen Glantz says to seek out mentors who can provide guidance and serve as role models.
- To get started, ask colleagues you admire for recommendations, check social media, and be patient.
- See more stories on Insider's business page.
While it's been an extraordinary adventure, it can feel lonely at times. In order to grow and develop professionally, I've had to make a constant effort to take courses, go to conferences, research industry trends, and make quality connections.
But over the years, I've found that the best advice and direction doesn't come from classes or reading a lot of books - it comes from mentors.
A mentor is someone who provides guidance, motivation, and support and can serve as a role model as you make key decisions, figure out your path, or expand as a person. I've had different kinds of mentors, from a retired CEO who met with me every Saturday morning for three years to experts I've never met but whose content I've consumed - be it podcasts, blogs, or YouTube videos - on a daily basis.
If you're looking for a mentor - or a few - these five tips can help you get started.
1. Ask your colleagues
Make a list of friends or other professionals that you're comfortable reaching out to and ask them if they know anyone you should turn to for mentorship, whether officially or unofficially.
Research each of the suggested mentors and see who you can learn from by consuming their content and who you should connect with personally.
2. Be active in your industry
Attend conferences, local events, and networking meetups to make connections with people in your industry. See if there's anyone you naturally connect with that might be someone to seek help from.
Rather than asking if they'll be your mentor, establish a consistent relationship, provide value where you can, and only occasionally ask for advice or a phone call.
3. Search on social media
Pick two platforms that you believe mentors in your industry would be on - you can use a website like Socialmediatoday.com to find the platforms industries use the most. Find the right people to follow by searching hashtags specific to your career (for example, #digitalmarketingexpert or #NYCaccountant) and for people actively posting valuable content.
Once you follow them, make a point to interact with them at least two times a week, commenting on their posts or resharing their content to your page.
After a few months of engaging with them on social media, send them a message and share what you've learned from them and ask if they're available to chat more.
4. Match with a volunteer
Research nonprofit mentorship programs, like the one Score.org offers where they match you with a retired professional, or search for groups in your local community that offer to connect you with someone who's offering their time and expertise to those looking for guidance.
If you're looking to meet mentors in all different types of industries, try joining a club or organization (such as Toastmasters) where you can meet people with varying life experience. That way, you can surround yourself with different types of people who can influence and guide you.
5. Make a connection on your own
Create a list of people you admire or look up to that might be a good fit for you. Reach out to them by email to introduce yourself, share what you appreciate about them, and let them know how you plan to keep up with what they're doing.
Don't ask for their help right away - just focus on building a relationship, and the mentoring will happen later on.