Finding a Mentor Outside of Your Network












A mentor doesn’t have to be your elder. It doesn’t have to be someone who previously held your job. It doesn’t even have to be someone who works in your industry. Misconceptions about who can and cannot be considered a mentor can hold you back from finding someone willing to lend you their counsel and support while you’re trying to get ahead in your career.

“Looking for mentors who are not working in one’s direct field is one of the best ways toward personal development,” according to Dr. Avisha Sadeghinejad, an Assistant Professor with the Forbes School of Business® at Ashford University. Sadeghinejad, a longtime marketing professional, suggested that anyone could benefit from knowing an expert who can teach them “a new thinking method or some creative ways to problem solving.”

Another misconception about mentors is that you only need one. While you should be grateful to anyone willing to offer their support, having the support of multiple people, and learning from their multiple perspectives, can have a transformative effect on your career path. Instead of only connecting with people in your business, you now have a network of contacts across multiple industries, all of which may be willing to vouch for you when you’re pursuing a new career.

“Your ability to understand and step into business directions that are new and a stretch for you are enhanced by connecting with mentors in different industries,” added Forbes School of Business® Assistant Professor Dr. Karen Ivy. “Don’t be hindered from starting mentor connections outside of your current business circle. Your world will only grow with knowledge, awareness, and opportunity.”

Students and professionals who want to connect with potential mentors outside of their industries can start by reaching out and requesting access to groups on social networks such as LinkedIn, joining associations, or even researching members of their local chambers of commerce.

Mentorship and support was one of the topics discussed at the 2015 Forbes Women’s Summit in New York City. The event hosted 250 of the world’s brightest and most accomplished women, including executives, entrepreneurs, educators, journalists, celebrities, and politicians.

In the above video, you’ll hear what four of these women — Ramona Pierson, Declara CEO; Melanne Verveer, U.S. Ambassador; Robert Wood Johnson, Foundation CEO; Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey; and television news producer Alexandra Gleysteen — said about reaching out to potential mentors, how they can help, and what to ask of them.

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Written by Jason R. Latham, Content Manager for Bridgepoint Education.

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