Don’t worry, Expartus has not suddenly turned into a dating service.
As wonderful as it is to find that perfect match in your personal life, its also important to find a great match in your business life- a mentor who can guide you through the ups and downs of a blossoming career and help you build towards a fulfilling and successful professional life.
Often, I hear from students convinced that everyone else is involved in fruitful professional relationships while they themselves cannot find the right mentor.
They are understandably frustrated, especially if, for whatever reason, they see little potential for their immediate boss to become their mentor.
While many young professionals do develop a mentor relationship with their boss or another superior in the firm, there are other ways and other places to search for a mentor relationship.
If you’re frustrated by your current options, or simply looking for a fresh perspective, try out a new strategy.
Mine your alumni networks
Most universities make alumni databases accessible to graduates on platforms that can be used much like a social network.
Search for professionals from your university who live near you, or who have made an impact in a field that you are interested.
Don’t be shy- reach out to those individuals via email, or, better yet, on the phone.
Explain your situation candidly- what you are looking for in your career, where you are now, and how you hope they can help you.
Set up coffee meetings. Most alumni are willing to meet with or at least speak with students and other alumni of their school.
Explore a non-profit
Individuals that run and operate successful non-profits face a unique set of challenges and young professionals can learn a lot just from hearing about the challenges they faced and how they dealt with them.
Seek out a non-profit that overlaps in some way with your area of interest, volunteer your time, and make a real effort to get to know the organization’s behind-the-scenes operations.
Take every opportunity for candid conversation- you never know what you might learn.
And while you are at it, why not take advantage of leadership opportunities at the nonprofit organization. These organizations are always on the lookout for talented individuals who can lend their skills.
Professional societies and networking events
Tedious as they might be, networking events can also be a tremendous opportunity.
Make an effort to attend on a regular basis, and while you are there, make an effort to move beyond the group that you came with and form new acquaintances.
You might just find the mentor that you are looking for.
Don’t be afraid to ask
If you are having trouble finding a mentor that matches your interest, ask your business contacts and acquaintances if they know of anyone that shares your interests and that might be willing to talk with you.
Ask for an introduction, follow up quickly with an email or phone call, and arrange an in-person meeting. Even if you don’t find the perfect mentor, you will have made a useful contact.
As you continue to search for a mentor, remember that mentorship can come from many sources- there is no need to limit yourself to one mentoring relationship.
An entire web professional relationships and perspectives, developed carefully now, can be an invaluable resource in both the short and long-term.