Mentorship in venture capital

As our fellows navigate their venture investor careers, people often look towards more experienced or like-minded mentors for guidance and career development in an infamously closed industry. 
 
But what are the major things to consider when approaching a mentor?
 
Here are our top tips for finding a mentor in the venture capital ecosystem and when it’s mentor-be.
 

Sourcing a mentor

 
🍎 It may seem obvious, but start with your existing network, such as previous employers, peers or colleagues.
 
🍎 Connect with VCs that share information similar to your interests. Most VCs share thought-leadership pieces so do your research. If you’re too early in your career to have a particular niche, this is still relevant; you’ll find a mentor with whom you can connect and relate. 
 
🍎 Understand your network: where do you have network gaps? Where could you benefit from expanding your network? Who’s missing from your board of directors? This insight is key for your future venture career.
 
🍎 Remember, mentorship does not have to be limited to a single pairing. 
 

Reaching out

 
🍎 Be proactive. If you want to connect with someone, begin with a simple ask: a quick 15 to 30-minute virtual coffee break. 
 
🍎 Go slow – see if they’re aligned with your vision and values first then go from there.
 
🍎 VCs are incredibly busy so may take a while to reply via email. However, VC is also a very relationship-driven industry where expanding your network is key for deal sourcing etc. So don’t be afraid to follow up! Tell them why you’ve specifically reached out, a bit about you and what you would specifically like to improve on.
 

Establishing goals 

 
🍎 Knowing your goals and sticking to them will help you plan agendas, and understand how often to meet and maintain professional boundaries. 
 
🍎  Make sure these interactions are two-way. Consider: What network of people can lean on you for introductions or advice? From there, you’ll understand your unique offering.
 
 

Moving forward

 
🍎 Remember to nurture and maintain these relationships. At LocalGlobe, the emphasis is on deep relationship-building as opposed to broad – follow up to stay in touch regularly and show gratitude.
 
🍎 Ask for feedback often and when you can: feedback can be invaluable so choose which feedback method works best for both of you and seek it out wherever possible.
 
🍎 Make sure you can nurture relationships, as opposed to creating transactional interactions.
 

Mentor vs Peer

 
At Newton Venture Program, we focus more on developing peer-to-peer relationships, ensuring everyone leaves with a network to support in their venture career.
 
Peer fellow groups can easily create deep, two-way relationships, offering support and expertise throughout your career. So consider whether mentorship or peer advice is better for you.
 
This article was written by Lara Pawade. 
 
Sources: 
https://hbr.org/2021/03/whats-the-right-way-to-find-a-mentor
https://www.npr.org/2019/10/25/773158390/how-to-find-a-mentor-and-make-it-work 
https://www.forbes.com/sites/ellevate/2021/05/20/how-do-i-find-a-mentor/?sh=1b4e1d4b5 

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