How I’ve been tackling the tricky task of finding a mentor

If cold emailing isn’t your thing, don’t sweat it. There are alternative ways to go about finding a mentor, some of which I’m currently experimenting with.

Mentorship is important to me as I feel I’d benefit from it not just in terms of professional growth, but personal development too. 

Yet the question of how to go about finding a mentor has been an ongoing struggle. I still haven’t really been successful in finding one, despite all the dos and don’ts I’ve read on the topic.

One tip is to approach someone who’s already familiar with your personality and abilities rather than a stranger. But what if you don’t feel anyone in your network would be a natural fit as your mentor? 

Who and what I’m looking for

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve received lots of great career advice from acquaintances and strangers at networking events over the years. I also can’t forget to shout out my uni professors for their support and lending an ear every now and then.

But ultimately what I desire is more of a structured sort of mentorship. For instance, I’d like to meet with the person regularly even if it’s only for a certain period of time. 

As well, while I’m open to the person being in an industry that’s completely different from the one I’m in, it’d be cool if they, too, had some experience in journalism, forged a non-traditional career path or worked in different countries.

The grand plan

Not long ago, I came up with a plan. I would make a list of possible mentors based in the same city as me (as I don’t think I’d prefer a remote mentorship for now), then gauge interest after cold emailing them and inviting them to meet over a coffee.

In many ways, this plan doesn’t sound all that bad. In fact, cold emailing someone I admired several years ago is what led to me nailing a job which wasn’t advertised.

But weeks after I’d come up with my grand plan, I hadn’t even taken baby steps toward embarking on it. That’s when I realized I simply didn’t want to approach finding a mentor in this fashion

It felt awkward to me, and I’m very likely not the only one who feels this way. What also didn’t feel right for me personally was resorting to monetary services to find a mentor.

Aha!

It was then that an idea that’d been floating around in my head since last year resurfaced. Rather than relying on chance encounters with possible mentors, why not accelerate my search by organizing my own event?

Thus the Entrepreneurial Women in Munich meetup group was born. And to my surprise, just a few days after I set up the group, over 100 people had already joined! 

Even if it takes some time, I’ll eventually find the mentor I’ve been searching for all along by essentially getting to know and surrounding myself with like-minded, career-driven people. That’s my hope, anyway. 

Tonight, several members are coming together for the group’s very first meetup, and there’s no doubt in my mind it’ll be a success, even if that just means exchanging career stories and advice.

Benefits for both parties

Writing this article and putting it out into the world offers yet another avenue to find someone who’s willing to give specific insights. On that note, please do share this post if you know anyone who might be interested! 

In the meantime, I’ll brainstorm how I can give my future mentor energy and inspire them to think more deeply or reflect differently on their path, as this article advises. The mentorship has to be valuable for them too, after all.

And who knows? Maybe with this mindset, I’ll manage to attract a mentor rather than the other way around finally putting an end to my fruitless search. 

This article was originally published on LinkedIn on 13th February 2020.

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