It's no secret that having leaders who advocate for you plays a significant role in your success in the workplace. In fact, a burgeoning body of research suggests that women would benefit from professional private conversations with senior staff who can mentor them, provide constructive feedback (which women all too often don't receive) and advocate for them when opportunities arise.
But how do you find a mentor if you've already exhausted networking events?
Here are seven unexpected places to land the mentor your career needs.
1. Ask social media.
Social media is just that — social. It's OK (and encouraged!) to put feelers out on social media to let people know that you're seeking help. While asking for help can feel uncomfortable, you can simply write a status on Facebook or post a story on Instagram or send a tweet on Twitter letting people know your interests and asking if you have anyone in your social network who knows about the topic and would be willing to talk with you. Before you know it, you may be able to build relationships with the people who reach out, and those relationships can become mentorships in time.
2. Turn to your neighbors.
Ask the people who basically live with you for mentorship. You never know who is living right next door or directly down the street and can help you with your career goals. You can post a flyer in your apartment building or on windows downtown asking for an expert on a topic. Leave your contact information and be open to whomever reaches out to you.
3. Use Fairygodboss.
By building out your profile on Fairygodboss, you can make connections with like-minded women in your field, or a field you're interested in moving into, and utilize FGB's network of experts and thought leaders. You can even join FGB's official mentorship group, a safe and inclusive space exclusively devoted to helping women find mentors.
4. Talk to your colleagues.
Your colleagues are great people with whom to talk about your career goals because they likely have similar interests and career aspirations. After all, they work for the same company and maybe even do your exact job. While they can offer you advice, be a sounding board and lend an ear, they may also have their own career mentors with whom they can share. They may be able to connect you with a mentor who has helped them.
5. Attend an passion-project event or just go out and socialize.
You don't need to attend career-oriented events in order to network. Bring your business cards wherever you go, and network at all kinds of social outings. Whether you're going to a luncheon to learn about female authors or you're going to a blogging conference or you're heading out for a birthday party for a friend of a friend, talk to people about your career goals and aspirations. You might just say the right thing to the right person at the right time, and they might be able to help you.
6. Pay a visit to your old stomping grounds.
Go back and visit your former college, university or educational institution where you studied. Your professors and professionals at the career center are perfect people with whom to chat about your career. After all, these may be the exact people who motivated you to pursue a career in your field in the first place.
7. Do your LinkedIn research.
Use LinkedIn to its fullest. Search companies for which you want to work and find out people in the department for which you'd want to work. See if you have any first-, second- or even third-degree connections with them and reach out! You're welcome to ask questions over LinkedIn messaging or just browse their own employment history to get a sense of how they got to where they are. That's what LinkedIn is for, anyway.
8. Ask for an informational interview.
Informational interviews can be a great way to get a sense of a company and a position. Maybe you want to be a journalist and are working toward writing for some big-name publication. There's no harm in reaching out to an existing journalist at that publication and asking to pick their brain if they have the time. Informational interviews may only last one hour or so, but if you establish rapport with this person, that relationship may far exceed that one interview.
AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreport and Facebook.