As our fellows navigate their venture investor careers, often people look towards more experienced or like-minded mentors for guidance and career development in a famously closed industry.
But what are the major things to consider when approaching a mentor?
Here is our top advice 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: 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.
🍎 Don’t approach someone much further ahead in their career. Although they can be very useful for your ‘Board of Directors’, someone who has recently faced the same challenges will have more empathy for your situation, making their advice even more valuable.
🍎 Remember: mentorship does not have to be limited to a single pairing.
🍎 Be proactive. If you want to connect with them, start 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 and go from there.
🍎 VCs are incredibly busy so naturally can 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.
🍎 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.
🍎 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 to only build your network to a place where 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.