Finding a mentor in real life or online (also known as a virtual mentor) is often a goal for those developing personally or professionally. I believe there’s another type of virtual mentor; those whose knowledge you can access without building a personal relationship.
Here’s why you should look for one.
1. Your resources or network shouldn’t hold you back
Working with a qualified coach is typically only accessible for those who can afford it or have the right contacts.
‘You’re the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with’ is a common phrase, but this doesn’t have to limit you to those you know in real life. Reading books is just one hugely effective, relatively affordable and easily accessible way to learn from others.
There are also hundreds of thousands of people sharing what they know on a huge range of topics. The majority provide free resources online like podcasts, blogs or videos so look for people sharing their expertise on a subject you want to know more about and follow their work.
2. Find the people who show you what’s possible
People used to believe that it simply wasn’t possible to run a mile in less than 4 minutes. No-one had achieved it before so that meant it couldn’t be done, right?
Wrong. Roger Bannister broke this record in May 1954 and only 6 weeks later, a second man, John Landy, went on to beat this first record. Many more followed after that.
Knowing that someone else has managed to achieve the goals you are also committed to reaching (something you might initially be inclined to believe isn’t achievable) provides valuable inspiration. By learning from tried and tested strategies, you can achieve the same goals AND do it in half the time.
3. Try before you buy
Many virtual mentors share their knowledge completely free of charge. Should you want more in-depth support, they can also provide dedicated (chargeable) courses for you to work through alongside a supportive network.
It might take time to find mentors that discuss the subjects you’re interested in, in a way that resonates with you. However, once found you can listen and learn from them before even considering investing your time and money into their mentoring, if that’s a route you’d like to take.
4. Develop greater self-awareness in the process
The great thing about looking for any mentor is that it encourages you to develop greater self-awareness. To understand what you’re looking for or need to improve, you need to examine your life and existing skills.
Spend some time reflecting and identify 2-3 key areas to work on. These don’t (and arguably, shouldn’t) have to be what you perceive as your weaknesses. Developing our strengths is hugely, if not more, valuable than focusing on improving less developed elements of our skillset.
If you’re looking to gain a different perspective, why not ask trusted friends, family, or even co-workers if they can help identify additional areas for your progression. Ask them to observe you in different situations, have they noticed any patterns in your behaviour (whether positive or negative)? This can help give you broader insights about yourself.
Some resources to get you started…
There are so many resources out there that you could create a full time job keeping up with all the trainings, videos and challenges on offer.
From my own experience, the quantity and variety can be overwhelming so I recommend staying focused on finding virtual mentors for one or two key topics at first.
Here are some ideas to get you started. Why not pick one or two businesses or people from the list below and browse through their resources online?
- All Bright – an online global community for women and their careers https://www.allbrightcollective.com/
- BossBabe – an online community of ambitious women and female entrepreneurs https://bossbabe.com/
- Donna Eden – creator of Eden Energy Medicine, a method of working with the body’s energy systems to reclaim health and natural vitality https://edenenergymedicine.com/
- Jim Kwik – brain and memory expert https://www.jimkwik.com/
- Joe Dispenza – a researcher, lecturer and author specialising in, among other things, neuroscience, epigenetics, and brain-heart coherence https://drjoedispenza.com/
- Katie Brindle – Chinese medicine practitioner, author and founder of the Hayo’u Method https://katiebrindle.com/
- Lewis Howes – author, podcast host and coach https://lewishowes.com/
- Lisa Nichols – international motivational speaker, best-selling author, founder and CEO of Motivating the Masses https://motivatingthemasses.com/
- Matthew Hussey – dating and relationship expert and confidence coach http://www.matthewhussey.com/
- Tony Robbins – life and business strategist https://www.tonyrobbins.com/
While you’re there and potentially adding a virtual mentor or two to the list of people you follow, why not also unfollow a few people online who don’t have such a positive influence in your life.