5 Steps for Finding Your Ideal Mentor

Posted: June 24, 2011 in Mentoring
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As I promised in my previous post about mentoring, I want to help you find your first mentor in sports. You need someone to help you navigate your career as you look to break into the industry. Like I said in a prior post, going at it alone in sports is not easy and will often yield undesirable results.

There are really two ways you can latch on to a mentor in sports. You can either be assigned one, or you can actively seek out a mentor. For me, I was fortunate enough to have joined the McDonough School of Business’s Alumni Mentor Program during my sophomore year. I indicated my interest in sports, and the next thing I know I was paired up with Rachel Mech, a former Hoya who co-founded ProVentures, a sports marketing firm. I just kind of fell into this relationship and am fortunate enough to have maintained it.

The much more common way to find a mentor in sports is to ask someone. While this might seem awkward to some, you would be surprised how willing people might be to help you out. Remember, they were all once in your shoes. Below are some of my recommendations for things you can do before asking someone to be your mentor:

1. Tap into your existing network to see who has gone on to work in sports. That includes your family’s network as well as both your high school and college alumni networks. LinkedIn would be extremely helpful for this step. This is a good starting point since you know you will have at least two things in common with these people: education and a passion to work in sports. If you networks are pretty dry, choose people in the business who you admire and think would be great mentors.

2. Collect as much information about these sports professionals in your networks as you can. Depending on the strength of your schools’ alumni networks, you may or may not find a large list to work from. Regardless of how many people are on your list, be sure look for as many similarities to a particular person as you can.

3. Start to narrow down your list of potential mentors according to their specific expertise in sports. Prioritize based on what part of the industry most intrigues you.

4. Reach out to these people and see if they would be willing to meet with you. Make sure to write them a very personalized email or handwritten letter that expresses interest in what they do. At the end, ask if he or she would be willing to meet for coffee or an informational interview. Impress them with your research and make them want to get to know you.

5. Follow up with those who respond positively. Make a good first impression when you meet them. Continue to stay in touch and build a relationship. You would be surprised how many of these people will want to extend a helping hand. If you play your cards right and take a genuine interest in these people, they will practically be asking you to be their mentee. Hopefully, they take you under their wing.

If you follow these 5 steps carefully and sincerely commit yourself to finding an ideal mentor, I believe you will experience nothing but success. Good luck!


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