Missing a Mentor? 5 Awesome Alternatives

A shortage of mentors is something we often hear about from our readers and the women we coach. Among business and professional women in emerging economies and in developing countries, the issue is even more acute. A recent Gallup Poll indicated that this lack of mentors was one of the key factors hindering women from becoming business owners in the Gulf Cooperation Council Countries* (GCC) of the Middle East.

Here at The Way Women Work, our objective is to share advice and best practices of how successful business and professional women compensate for less than optimal work environments. If you are having a hard time finding a mentor, here are five alternatives that could provide similar insights, advice and support to help you advance in your business and career:

  1. Form an informal Business Advisory Board. Identify a small group of people, each of whom have expertise in a topic (s) that will help you to start or grown your business. Ask each individual if they would be willing to serve on team of advisors to you and your business. Convene and meet with this group regularly, and solicit their input and advice.  As you launch and grow your business, these individuals may later become part of a more formal board.
  2. Form a Business or Professional Roundtable or Peer Mentoring Group. Identify a group of peers whose expertise and success you admire. The group can be composed of all women or both men and women. The group would meet on a regular basis to mentor each other sharing ideas, best practices, contacts and to hold each other accountable for results.
  3. Participate in e-Mentoring or Remote Mentoring. Research, identify and apply for mentoring programs where women professionals and entrepreneurs are paired with a mentor in another city or location. Two examples of exemplary such programs for women in emerging economies and developing countries are the mentoring programs offered by  The Cherie Blair Foundation and TechWomen.
  4. Engage with Thought Partners. Identify individuals similar to those you might engage with in regular, planned way through an advisory board or a business/professional roundtable, but in this case engage with them individually rather than in a group and on an as needed versus a regular basis. See my recent article in Forbes for a more detailed explanation on different types of thought partners.
  5. Hire a business or career coach. If you have the resources to do so, hire a professional business or career coach who has the expertise to help you accomplish your objectives.

Successful business and professional women always look for ways around scarcity of resources or people, like a lack of mentors. They utilize alternatives to get the mentoring they need.

How have you sought and gained mentoring?