Finding a mentor is hard work. For a large portion of my career, I was mentorless. I had no one to call when things were going rough, and I also had no one to connect with when things were going well and I was looking to upgrade my career.

I needed mentors but didn't know the best way to find them. I went through all of the different ways to find mentors, and these four ways to find mentors stood out the most to me. Finding one that works for you doesn't have to be as difficult. 

1. Coffee Meetings.

Every mentor I've ever had was the result of an initial face to face meeting. I find that so many people who desperately need mentors but can't find them, simply don't have the network to even start finding a mentor.

Here's a sample email you can send:

"Subject: Coffee?

John -- I've been following your career for the past few years and I've read everything you've written online. I actually live in the same city as you and would love to have coffee with you if you're open to it. Like you, I got my bachelors at Purdue and am starting my career in Technology. Now, that I'm in marketing, I'm looking to connect with others that inspire me and have similar backgrounds as me.

Coffee's on me of course. Interested?"

Now, the key with this email is to show how much research you've done about them and how similar you are to their background. Mentors want to help. Because they get inundated with these mentorship requests but don't feel the potential mentee has dedicated time to research them or communicate why they would be a good mentor for them, those requests often go.

2. Start an interview series.

Getting busy people to meet with you is almost impossible. The best way to get someone to respond back to you is to pander to their interests. I found one of the best ways is to interview them and publish it on your blog or publication that you're with.

A simple email like this would work:

"Subject: Interested in being interviewed for X publication?

Jessica - I'm a huge fan of your work and you've inspired me to create my own business. I would love to interview you and get some insights from you that would really benefit the readers for X publication. I know you're busy, so if you can't do it or can't respond, I completely understand. Interested?"

That's it. This simple email can get you connected with people you never thought possible. Now, of course, this interview doesn't mean that they've agreed to be your mentor. But, it does get you one step closer to building a meaningful relationship with them.

3. Stop being a keyboard warrior and attend business events regularly.

Notice a trend here? Initial face to face meetings is absolutely important when building relationships. So much of finding a suitable mentor, mentee relationship is personality. I've met so many people that have a similar background as me, and when we meet, we are polar opposites. And when personalities are different, how much I can help them as a mentor diminishes.

The easiest way to do this is to attend business meetups in your current or desired field that meet on a regular cadence. After you attend the same event and interacting with the same people, you start building better relationships and that's when potential mentor/mentee relationships happen.

4. Pay for a mentor/coach.

There are plenty of sites that allow you to pay for coaches and mentors. Personally, I would try the first three options before you try this option.

Websites like Clarity.Fm work out well when I don't need a mentor but I do need quick answers to questions I have. This way I can pay an expert for 30 minutes of their time and go on with whatever I was trying to do.

This is a clean cut approach because there is no long-term commitment needed on my part, and it's also easy to book. Basically, no one says no. The funny thing is that you can hire someone on Clarity to get their advice on how to find a mentor. The options are endless.

When you're ready to commit to a coach, then find someone that you admire or from a referral from someone you trust. I actively hire coaches every time I feel that I've reached my own personal ceiling and I need help to break through it.

In the end, mentors are great. Be active in your searches and don't expect a coach to come to you without the work. If you put in the work, finding a mentor becomes a lot easier.

Published on: May 29, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.