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New entrepreneurs often hear they should find a business mentor, but this is often easier said than done. You can begin in your current network, then expand into organizations. — Getty Images/fizkes

New entrepreneurs often hear they should find a business mentor, but this is often easier said than done. If you’re looking for a business mentor, here are six places to look.

Start with your current network first

Most people overlook the connections they already have. If you graduated from college, participated in any internship program, or worked a full-time job, you probably have more professional connections than you realize.

Start by reaching out to the alumni network at your college. They may be able to connect you with potential mentors. Or, if you keep in touch with any of your professors, you might also reach out to them.

If it’s been a while since you’ve attended college, you might consider reaching out to your professional network and letting them know what you’re doing. You never know who they may be able to introduce you to.

Find a mentor through SCORE

If you want to find a free business mentor, then you should check out SCORE. This organization can connect you with a qualified business mentor to help you navigate the early stages of building your business.

Your SCORE mentor can help you:

  • Create a business plan.
  • Determine which business ideas to pursue.
  • Recommend proven business tools.
  • Provide practical business advice.

To get started, you can browse through the mentor profiles on SCORE’s website. Or you can answer a few questions and let SCORE match you with a mentor.

[Read more: What Is SCORE and How Can You Use It To Help You Start a Business?]

Check your local Small Business Development Center (SBDC)

Over 1,000 Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) are located across the U.S. and provide businesses with the support and tools they need. These centers are typically hosted by universities and private organizations and are funded by Congress through a partnership with the Small Business Administration (SBA).

To get started, you can find your local SBDC. From there, you can receive free business consulting and training.

[Read more: What is a Small Business Development Center?]

You never want to start by asking someone to mentor you. Focus on building the relationship and getting to know them first.

Attend meetups and networking events

Attending in-person meetups and networking events is tricky right now. Fortunately, there are plenty of opportunities available online.

Twitter and LinkedIn are excellent resources to connect with other business owners and learn about online conferences and events. And you can join LinkedIn and Facebook groups for professionals in your industry.

You need to be wary of any offers you receive because some will be consultants offering paid services. But online networking is a great way to meet other entrepreneurs and begin building your network.

[Read more: How to Network From Home]

Join an incubator or accelerator

Joining an incubator or accelerator is a great way to connect with more experienced entrepreneurs. An incubator typically supports startups in the early stages of building their businesses.

You’ll often share a workspace with other business owners for 12 months or more. You’ll receive mentorship and help to build a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). Before joining an incubator, talk to other members who attended the program about their results.

An accelerator helps more established businesses accelerate their growth. To join this type of program, you’ll need to show a certain level of growth. These programs typically last a few months and often include training and mentorship.

Join a professional networking association

Finally, you may be able to find a mentor by joining a professional networking association. For example, marketing professionals can join the American Marketing Association to connect with other marketers in their area.

You can also join your local Chamber of Commerce or other local business groups. Once you get involved and start meeting people, look for someone who has achieved what you’re looking to achieve.

However, you never want to start by asking someone to mentor you. Focus on building the relationship and getting to know them first.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published November 04, 2021