How to find a mentor when you lack a network

(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

The San Francisco Bay Area offers many inventive ways to meet other professionals in your industry. Yet, without a mentor to help prioritize and make decisions, networking may feel overwhelming and even like a waste of time. This is why it’s important for all professionals at any level in their career to have a few mentors. Here are a few ways to find teachers in your field when you lack the connections.

The virtual mentor
You don’t need to know or even meet someone for them to be your mentor. This is especially important for people trying to break into an industry. If you want to someday have your very own enterprise software startup, read the bios and articles of executives at companies that you like.

Make it a habit of reading articles or subscribing to blogs in your field. With time, you will have a group of virtual mentors that can offer you their experience and knowledge from anywhere in the world.

Peer mentors
While a lot of emphasis is put on finding advisers and teachers that are established, you can also learn from people who are at your level. Peer mentors are high performers and can often help with immediate solutions to a problem. The best way to find peer mentors is at your office. However, if you are not yet working in your desired field, you can find peer mentors in chatrooms, through meetups and at conferences. Next time you attend a company meeting or a networking event, take a moment to build your team of peer mentors.

The coach
It’s next to impossible to find a mentor who will invest lots of time in grooming you and finding you a job at your dream company. Still, it’s very possible to find a few established professionals who will answer emails and phone calls here and there. For this reason, once you’ve identified someone who can offer coaching, interact with them wisely.

If it’s a blogger with a large following, post questions to their articles. If it’s a professor or an executive at another company, work around their availability and take them out to lunch. Successful professionals are busy and you don’t want to interrupt their routine.

Remember, most people have many mentors in their careers. Also, you can outgrow a mentor and find yourself looking for new role models every couple of years. Having people you can turn to for career advice will only make the big choices in life a lot more manageable.

Belo Cipriani is an award-winning author, former staffing professional, a spokesperson for Guide Dogs for the Blind and the Writer-in-Residence at Holy Names University. Learn more at BeloCipriani.com.

Belo Cipriani