A couple of months ago, I wrote a piece about the benefits of having a mentor (both as a freelancer and if you’re in employment). A few people asked me in the comments and on social media how they could find a mentor.
First things first
Before you start looking, work out what you want from a mentor. Ideally, you want someone a few years ahead of you so they can advise you on what you want to do next. Do you want an accountability partner, someone who has knowledge in an area you haven’t ventured into yet or someone who can connect you with others?
Got an idea? Great. Let’s go mentor hunting.
Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are all great places to do a shout out for a mentor. I started my search doing this, and had several recommendations. The one downside (depending on how you look at it), is that several of these recommendations will be mentors you have to pay for. There are pros and cons to paying for a mentor. On the one hand, it can be costly. But it’s an investment (one you can expense) in your personal development in the same way buying an ecourse or going to a business seminar would be. Paying for a mentor may lead to a more professional, committed working relationship.
(With the launch of the brand new Freelance Lifestylers Facebook group, you can feel free to do a shout out for a mentor or buddy in the group too! Why not join and chat with others? It’s completely free.)
Next up, speak to your contacts. I found one mentor through a recommendation from a friend to chat with her business partner. Her business partner has plenty of great experience, had already built up her own business and gave me a HUGE amount of great advice. All for the price of a coffee. Personally, I would say reaching out to your contacts is the best way to start, and you’re more likely to find a free mentor this way.
Networking is a great way to meet potential mentors (you are networking now, right?)
When you’re out networking, keep your mind open to potential mentors. They don’t have to be in the same industry, but ideally you do want to get on well with them. Swap business cards, and ask them if they’d be interested in meeting up for a coffee in exchange for a little advice.
Finally, there are a number of websites you can use to find a mentor. Try MentorsMe, and I’ve recently discovered Horses Mouth which looks interesting too. Some of them are paid (for example, the Association of Business Mentors charges £75 a year, but you get a bunch of benefits like six months free Regus Gold lounge membership).
- When it comes to arranging a mentor relationship, you ideally want to organise meetings/catch ups every few months. This gives you a goal to aim for each time, and some accountability.
- They’re giving up their time for you, so make it clear you appreciate it and don’t bug them (e.g. too many emails, or chasing for info after only a day).
- It’s a two way relationship! Refer work back to your mentor when you can, help them with areas they might be unsure of and share useful articles with them.
- Not getting much from your mentor or feel like the relationship is coming to an end. Move on (in a dignified way, burnt bridges in business will come back to bite you in the bum).
- In fact, why not try a couple of different mentors? There’s no reason why you should stick to one mentor forever.
- Want in depth help with freelancing? I offer freelancing 1-2-1 consultations over Skype or G+ (or face to face if you’re in the Berkshire area).