Especially during the pandemic, you might see friends reaching out to their mentors for career advice. That might lead you to wonder: What is a mentor and how do I get one?
Whatever your goals are, finding a mentor can accelerate your progress. Read on to understand what a mentor is, what one can do for you, and how to find the right one for your needs.
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What Is a Mentor?
A mentor is a guide who uses their experience and position to help you accomplish your goals. You can learn from their successes and failures without having to go through the same events they did. Their knowledge will better prepare you for the twists and turns that come with your chosen career.
A mentor can simply be someone you periodically talk to and ask questions from or someone who is there to show you the ropes themselves. Figure out what you hope to get from mentorship, and seek out someone who can help you achieve your goals.
Why Should I Get a Mentor?
Having a mentor is like drinking your morning coffee—sure, you’d wake up eventually, but you’d hit your stride faster with a little caffeine. With a mentor, you’re able to learn so much more and gain so many more opportunities than you would otherwise.
For example, a mentor can introduce you to a colleague who has an internship opportunity for you. In normal circumstances, this internship may be a long shot. A mentor can also answer your questions in real-time, helping you accelerate through your career path.
How Do I Find One?
So are you convinced that a mentor is right for you? Now it’s time to find one. There’s no Tinder-esque mentorship app where you swipe left and right on potential candidates. You’re going to have to take a more active and professional approach to find yourself a mentor.
1. Social Media Networking
Thanks to the internet, your network is larger than ever. In particular, social networking sites like LinkedIn provide an excellent platform to connect with business professionals.
You can request to connect with possible mentors on these sites and instant message them through their profile. Be courteous and open with your messaging—an overzealous or immature message can be off-putting right from the start.
Thank each person for connecting with you. Ask a simple question to create a conversation. This can be about the nature of their job or the company they work for. Over time, you can develop a relationship that grows into a full mentorship.
2. Networking Events
Local networking events can be even better than networking online in some cases. While the internet allows you to connect with people no matter their location, attending a networking event is more personal.
Although the COVID-19 crisis has forced sponsors to call off many of these events, opportunities still exist online. Relationship-building service 7:47 still hosts dinners online, creating connections by asking attendees to express gratitude. Many industry-specific conferences are also being held on Zoom.
After the networking event, keep in touch with those who caught your attention. You need to develop a relationship before asking someone to be your mentor.
3. Personal Branding
Before reaching out to potential mentors, you want to beef up your personal brand. You want to be able to sell yourself to mentors as someone worth their time to coach. Your personal brand will create the first impression you need to win them over.
You can build up your brand through social networking. Your online profiles depict who you are at a basic level. Developing a professional resume and working on your writing can also help portray the type of candidate you are at a glance.
Consistency is key when it comes to branding. Not only do you want your tone and message to line up, but you also want to keep everything up to date. This could include sharing weekly thoughts and questions on LinkedIn as a way to connect and learn from others.
4. Career Fairs
You may find a mentor through your work experiences. Finding a job or an internship can lead you to professionals who are willing to help guide you forward. The most concentrated place to look is at a career fair.
At these fairs, there will be dozens of booths of companies and organizations looking to gain exposure and fill positions. Not only can you send out a ton of resumes and applications here, but you also have a chance to speak one-on-one with recruiters from these businesses.
Before you attend a career fair, prepare some questions for potential employers. You can even ask about their experiences with mentorship within their organization. Let it be known that you’re itching to learn, and they might be able to help connect you with a good mentor.
5. Professional Workshops
Workshops provide a more hands-on experience than your regular career fair. The end goal isn’t necessarily to land a position but to learn a new skill or valuable piece of information. Workshops cover a range of industries, so you should be able to find one that’s right for you.
At workshops, not only will you have a chance to meet with professionals in their respective fields, but you’ll also rub shoulders with some like-minded individuals who are also in attendance. Speaking with them could be equally beneficial.
Mentors need not be wise old men who traveled the world in 80 days. They could be fellow young professionals looking to get ahead and who happens to have different experiences than you. You can work together to achieve your goals, leaning on each other every step of the way.
6. Speaking Seminars
Many of the world’s highest-ranking business professionals attend speaking events and panels or host seminars for people to pick their brains. These events are sure to teach you something new. Look in your area to see if there are any events like this in the works.
Bring a notepad to soak in every piece of information you can. There will often be a Q&A segment, so be prepared with some questions to ask as well. You might be given the chance to ask one, giving you a five-minute mentorship window with one of the best.
There’s a slim chance you can personally meet the guest of honor for yourself. Regardless, you can always talk to other attendees in your quest for a mentor. Many local business leaders may be there, and it will be a wonderful chance to connect with them as well.
7. College Courses
Students have all the luck when it comes to mentors. People love to share their knowledge and experience with students. If you’re enrolled in school, now is your time to capitalize on the best college experience. Play that “student card” and see where it takes you.
You can start in some of your classroom settings. When you’ve pinpointed the career path you want to follow, start connecting more with your professors. They can help guide you to where you want to go, having followed a similar path to yours. You can also connect with classmates who are on the same career path as you.
College professors can also continue mentoring you once you’ve graduated. There is no expiration date to mentorship, but you don’t want to wait until after college to start looking for a career. Get started as soon as possible.
8. Clubs and Societies
Organized groups give like-minded people a chance to share interests and grow together. This is another opportunity for you to connect with possible mentors in a setting many don’t consider. Most schools and communities have groups that you might be interested in joining.
Each club and organization has a leader. This is the person you can begin to learn from. They are practically volunteering to be your mentor in exchange for your dedication and contribution to the group.
Don’t forget to learn from your peers along the way. Everyone can be a mentor in some way or another. Take advantage of every learning opportunity you can find. You may even find yourself in a position to mentor another someday.
Mentors come in all shapes and sizes. You might be surprised who ends up being the one that helps you the most. Line up your goals and start planning ways to find a mentor, and you’ll be well on your way to achieving your goals.
More Tips on Finding the Right Mentor
Unsurprisingly enough, all businesses are online today. Considering the advances in the smartphone industry as well as the increasingly accessible internet facility, it was only a matter of time before businesses took advantage of the online environment.
This increasing popularity makes for a promising future for a lot of young entrepreneurs. And knowing how to start an online business will open up a world of possibilities for you that was not possible 10 years ago.
So, keeping the potential for exponential growth in mind, let’s dive into the article below, and explore the steps of starting an online business that will bring you success.
1. Becoming the Master of ‘ONE’ Trade
Most successful online businesses are the master of one trade. And that’s why beginning with a niche is always a good idea.
A niche market is a focused segment within a larger market. Imagine a men’s shoes market and then, imagine handcrafted brown Italian leather shoes for men. While the previous one is a bigger market, the latter one is simply a more focused segment within that market.
Knowing the niche helps a lot to start an online business and if you are feeling a bit lost, here are some self-queries that will act as a perfect guide:
What Speaks to Your Heart?
This first way of discovering the niche is perfect for those who want to do what they love. Working in a market that you love will ensure that constant excitement and drive to do better, eventually leading to ultimate prosperity.
Decisions Based on Knowledge
The second way is perfect for those who have a lot of untapped knowledge about a specific industry. Utilizing the insights on a specific industry is a great way to find a niche. This way, you’ll already know all the ins and outs of the industry and can easily get ahead of all the competitors.
Lastly, conducting research into various industries and finding an untapped segment is another amazing way of finding the right niche. This practice will require you to come up with a new and unique solution for uncatered audiences.
2. When Is Your Idea Valid?
All the great ideas for starting an online business needs to be valid. And once you have found the niche, this validation process is what comes next.
Proving the soundness of the idea is not at all hard. A detailed industry examination is all you need initially to understand the value of the concept and recalibrate it to turn into a great online business.
Market research is a systematic unraveling of the target market. This research will include all the information on the product/service you are about to sell, the target audience, and how the competitors are operating in this crowded market.
This in-depth research will give you the initial idea of how the products can make an impact in the outside world. And once the small online business ideas are validated, it will be time to move on and craft a plan and start working on establishing the business.
3. Crafting the Map to Success
Having a proper plan for an online business is like having a map when you travel to an unknown city. This is a document that includes all the factual information on the business and crucial business data.
To help you out, here’s a list of all the information online business plans must include:
- An idea of objective – The best online business plans always have a clear outline of the business goals and intentions. Having this clear outline will increase the efficiency of business functions later on. The target demographic, business model—all kinds of information needs to be a part of this document.
- Taking stock of available resources – A startup needs to utilize all the resources it has, and that’s why the plan needs to have an in-depth outline of the financial resources in use as well as the employees and their expertise. With a better idea of all the resources in hand, starting an online business will be an easier process.
4. The Virtual Storefront: A Process of Development
The steps of how to start an online business are incomplete without the website creation process. With the right website approach, you can easily succeed in increasing business revenue.
What does that perfect business website look like? Let’s follow these steps to create an effective business website.
Choose Your Approach
There are numerous ways of making a website and for a positive outcome, you need to choose the perfect approach. Depending on the business model, initial finances, and end goals, there are two kinds of approaches for the online storefront:
- Third-party approach – Third-party platforms will connect you with the customers out there. For small online business ideas, Creating an account or site with these platforms will be beneficial because these platforms come with a large array of services as well as a big enough existing consumer base ready to utilize.
- Creating a new website – A business-specific website will help you eliminate the third party go-between and connect directly with the buyers. With this approach, you get more control over the business and how it is presented to the consumers out there and the revenue you make. Any of the above-mentioned approaches can be beneficial for easy online business startups. However, to achieve some specific business goals, having a customized website will be more beneficial for you.
Design Can Bring You Maximum Success!
For those who have decided to create their own site, the design is of paramount importance. With a great design, you will be able to engage and interact with the visitors better and encourage them to make a purchase.
The design, however, is not just a matter of aesthetics. A website’s design encompasses all aspects of it, from the visual effects to the content that’s used on the site.
To create a truly amazing design that reflects new online business concepts here are a few matters to consider:
- Keep it responsive – Many markets are simply skipping over the desktop phase and launching the business for mobile users around the world. Considering this popularity of the mobile internet market, the business website has to be responsive. This approach will help you to reach a bigger audience and conduct business on a larger scale.
- Users want a fast experience – Using high-quality images on the site does improve the visuals, but make sure all those images are compressed. Having a faster website will enhance the user experience on the site. Besides compressing all the media content on the site, you can also utilize an asynchronous loading technique that loads all the contents simultaneously, reducing friction. With a faster site, it will become easier to implement the online business startup ideas into reality.
- Define the brand – The design stage determines a lot of things for the business website and one of those things is the business image. To make an impact on the world with the business, you have to create a perfect image and for that, a brand guide is necessary. The brand guide is a document that includes all the information and guidelines on various visual elements on the site that makes up the business personality. Based on the kind of image you want to create, all the elements will be outlined in this documentation.
Where the Website Becomes Reality
Since we know how website design helps to launch a successful online business, it is time to move onto development. Online business development is where the idea becomes a reality. And to make this reality perfect, you need to make sure that the development and deployment process goes well.
A high performing site always includes all the right features that enhance the user experience as well as helps you to convert more traffic. And for the best results, ensure the use of only the latest tech stack during development.
Here are some development issues you have to pay attention to while building the business website:
- The right partner makes all the difference – For small startups who are wondering how to start an online business, finding the right development partner is going to make all the difference. However, before making a decision, there are a few things you should contemplate. The team that you are about to hire should have experience in catering to your industry, as well as an extensive portfolio and good reviews. Additionally, it will be perfect if the agency or freelancer also provides a 360-degree service, from development to maintenance.
- How to assure the quality of the site? – Testing the site is an integral part of the answer to the question of “how to start an online business?”. An experienced partner will be able to help you the most with this. From security testing to split testing, this stage in development will help in understanding how well the site functions and what needs to change. And once the changes are made and the test results come clean, it will be time to launch the website.
5. Some Tricks to Increase Online Sales
Selling online is not easy, but not hard either. In a physical store, you can use campaigns, go door to door with pamphlets, and such. However, successful online businesses have their own style of campaigns that helps them to sell more without any problems.
So, what are these tricks?
Utilize the Magic of SEO
With an increase in quality traffic, the sales ratio will go up too. And to drive quality traffic on the website, you need to utilize the SEO tricks, and probably hire an SEO expert.
When starting an online business site, ensure all the content on the site is optimized to rank for the right queries by target consumers. With a higher rank on the SERP, the traffic will increase on the site.
With the increase in quality traffic, it will become easier for you to convert visitors. The visitor data will help you to adjust the site performance. In brief, utilizing SEO will open the doors to a lot of possibilities for your small online business ideas.
Entice With Free Value
Consumers today have lots of options to choose from. And keeping all that in mind, it will be wise to create a business plan for an online startup that provides free value to the users before asking them to buy something.
Consumers want to buy from someone who knows what they are doing, especially in the case of a curated service or goods provider. And that’s why to turn the profitable online business ideas even more effective, you need to start offering free value on the site, with free products and content.
Having a blog is also another way of displaying your expertise. With specialized content on the industry, you can easily grab the attention of the audience. And once assured of your knowledge on the matter, consumers will feel a lot safer about making a purchase.
A Killer Customer Service Is Everything
Your small online business idea needs a better service option. Using AI-based interactive features to implement better support for the global consumer base will prove to be extremely beneficial. With a 24/7 automated support channel, customers will be satisfied with your business and come back more often.
It’s an Easy Process: All You Have to Do Is to Start
And there it is, the simple five-step process of starting an online business that is bound to succeed. If you look closely, you’ll notice that there are not a lot of differences between creating a physical business and an online one. The main differences are only in the consumer and competitive landscape.
While a physical store faces and caters to local competitors and consumers, the online business has to deal with the same on a global basis. So, focusing well on the global market landscape while crafting the plan will help you succeed.