Q: I am a 21-year-old African American male who is trying to establish his own clothing business. I have a few of my shirts already in a store. However, I wanted to know how I could find a mentor. I would love for someone to point me in the right direction when it comes to manufacturing and marketing campaigns.
— P. Barnes, Winston-Salem, NC
A: The key to finding a mentor is to put yourself in the position to help them find you. In fact, it’s better to think in terms of what you have to offer as a prot├ęg├ę, rather than what a potential mentor can do for you.
Concentrate on increasing your visibility and connections in the clothing business. That usually means joining an industry or trade group, such as the American Apparel and Footwear Association (www.americanapparel.org). Your goal should be to play an active role in the association or a local chapter, showcasing your positive attributes and making it possible for a mentor to identify with and want to invest in your success.
Advance Mentoring (www.Advance Mentoring.com), a Website dedicated to connecting prot├ęg├ęs with willing mentors, boasts a network of mentors in over 50 industries.
Don’t limit yourself to just one mentor. You want a diverse network of advisers who can provide both personal and professional guidance as both you and your business mature and evolve. Finally, one of the best ways to recognize a good mentor is to be one.