Finding a Mentor or Sponsor When Working Remotely

Working remotely shouldn't stop you in finding a mentor or sponsor. In fact it may be even more important, as we are all navigating new territory and it is good to have someone trusted that you can run things past. Finding a mentor remotely may look slightly different because you will have to find them and engage with them online. 

Pandemic or not, this particular framework is also equally and exactly applicable to people switching careers who are looking for mentors in another industry/profession, or people who don't work for a company, such as entrepreneurs or freelancers.

Step 0: Define. Identify what you hope to gain from a mentorship relationship and the structure you would like. What are your goals? How often do you want to meet? What kind of personality would be the best fit? Etc. 

Step 1: Research. Who are people in your field you admire and are accessible? Find people through websites, social media and LinkedIn for connections. If you don't know the "who" look at companies you admire and research the people in specific roles at the company.  

Step 2: Create a compelling template for outreach

Dear x,
Personal note - 1 line or 2 (speak to something that they’ve done and why/how it resonated) Given the unprecedented time we are in, we are all being asked to pause, reflect and reset. I am ready to take my work to the next level. Given I admire your work, I would be grateful to get your perspective.
Option 1: Ask for feedback - "Would you be open to giving me feedback on my portfolio/previous work/resume/other?"
Option 2: Address a specific issue you would like advice on - "I saw that you've been particularly successful optimizing paid social ads on Facebook and Instagram. Currently, I'm running an ad on Facebook, and am running into xyz issue. Have you ever encountered that? Do you have any tips on how to work through this issue?"

Step 3: Review feedback. Send out your email template to numerous people. Seeing their response will help you gage what kind of a mentor they will be. For example, if their response is short and unengaged, they probably won't be the best mentor for you. Remember you are, in a sense, interviewing them to see if they would make for a good mentor or sponsor. You don't want just any mentor or sponsor. You want someone who will have your back and best interest at hand. 

Step 4: Set up a call. Now that you have an idea of who might be a good mentor, ask if you can set up a call to discuss their feedback further. On this call you can ask if they would be open to mentoring you. Remember to have the specifics of the type of mentorship relationship defined so you both can be in agreement of what a mentorship relationship looks like. 

You can use the same format for reaching out to a sponsor or mentor. The best way to approach a sponsor is to bring them on first as a mentor, but share more of the wins vs struggles and ask them for advice that they will see the results of so that you win their confidence. Save the conversations around struggles or internal/emotional aspects for those you really want primarily as a mentor. Be clear about who you want as a sponsor vs a mentor from the beginning and cater the conversations accordingly. Vekita's Full Potential guidebook offers more insights on mentorship and sponsorship, plus all you need to know to find and get your ideal career.