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How To Find a Mentor Using Twitter

willjohnsonio profile image Will Johnson ・3 min read

A question I hear people ask a lot is "How Do I Find a Mentor?"

I understand why you would want someone who can help you and has been on the same path as you. They can help you avoid pitfalls and mistakes and point you in the right direction.

Should You Look For A Mentor

My advice? Don't look for a mentor. That's not the same as don't get a mentor, but I don't think you should actively ask around for one.

There's a quote that says "When the student is ready, the teacher shall appear".

This is definitely something I have experienced, as noted by my tweet above. If you are consistently showing your work and your progress, people who have the experience you desire will reach out to you to help you reach those higher levels. BOOM! You have a mentor.

The reason I say you shouldn't directly reach out asking for mentors is that a mentor relationship is built on trust. If you haven't established any prior history with someone, they don't even have any context to mentor you.

However, if they know that you've been learning, progressing and you reach out for something specific like "Do you know why then API isn't returning any data?" with the steps you took so far. They know that you value their time. If you implement that advice and tell them, the next time you reach out they'll be eager to help you.

When I was learning web development, Eric Poe from CoderDojoKC reached to me on Twitter and showed me how to use GitHub because I was confused. I didn't have to ask he was willing because I built trust by constantly showing what I was doing. He knew that I was would take his advice seriously, and he wouldn't waste his time.

Get Mentorship Indirectly

Also, in 2020 there are a ton of ways to get indirect mentorship, people have done podcasts interviews, wrote blog posts about their careers, conferences talks, and more. You can learn a lot from people without ever having to reach out to them directly. Just reading the tweets can give a lot of information.

By getting that information it can better assist you if you do decide to ask a question. I decided to reach out to Joel Hooks from egghead for advice because he was a self-taught developer who learned to code in his mid-thirties with a wife and 5 kids.

That was the situation I was in, it had the right context. I'm not 100% sure if a 22-year-old, single Computer Science Grad could have given advice that was right for me and my situation.

Also, I never asked him or anyone to be my mentor. As I implemented the advice that was given. trust was built and more advice was given. It was organic, not formal.

Conclusion

I really believe organic relationships built on trust, are better factors in your success than trying to find someone who mentors you. If you make your self mentor-able, a mentor will appear when you least expect it. That's what has happened to me.

I believe it can happen to you.

Let me know in the comments, "Do you have a mentor?"

If you want more tips on using social media to gain mentors sign up for my newsletter here: https://tinyletter.com/willjohnsonio

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Discussion

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It feels like mentorship is a two-way street. You need to show a willingness to learn and to put in the effort.

I didnt have a "mentor" until I started putting myself out in the open.

I started contributing to Bridgetown , answering questions in the StimulusReflex discord server, willingness to open issues, dig through source code, etc. The big 3 mentors for me have been @jaredcwhite , @andrewmcodes , and @leastbad , each in their own way. I have been coding for 3 years, but only in the last 4-6 months or so did I break out of my shell and put myself out in the open and meet the above individuals, and I havent regretted it at all.

TLDR: If you never put yourself out there, you will never get anywhere.

 

Thank you my friend! Also the best mentors themselves get mentored in what they do by others in all sorts of ways…for example I was greatly inspired by @joelhawksley in the way he ran the ViewComponent project from GitHub and modeled my initial efforts to run an open source project after his example. So it's important to find people who themselves are teachable.

 

well said, Konnor

 

I agree Maulik

 

This is definitely a good start. To expand on this with my own experience as an older developer, one huge problem with the "go get yourself a mentor" advice is that it encourages young people to treat their colleagues as resources to use instead of people. And if you're going to treat the relationship transactionally, you get what you pay for, as in, if you don't give back in the relationship, you probably don't really have a mentor, just some person who secretly rolls their eyes when you call. That's why it's generally much easier to find a mentor at school: The teachers/professors/instructors are paid to be there.

If you can get rid of the transactional aspects, you're in even better shape. Nobody really hesitates to help a close friend or family member, because that relationship isn't about what one person gets from the other, for example. Making a friend who happens to have a lot more career experience than you do is a lot more valuable (along multiple dimensions) than someone you just consider a source of advice.

 

In our experiences - it's easy to say you want a mentor - and it's really hard for people to actually show up. We've had the best luck - from both sides / when we put money on the table. It's weird... but it's like physical "respect." When you pay for it - you show up. We like to help people / and we also like to pay people. In the past - some of us have just reached out to our favorite internet personalities and said "Can I pay you to talk to me for 1 hour a week?" and we did - and it was good. We also like using CodeMentor - from both angles. For example, we don't use Rails - but sometimes... we have to - and so, we'll just get a rails expert to hang out with us for a few hours. That saves us thousands of dollars.

 

I just want to say, your post was so insightful and delivered real experience. Thank you and will love to read more ❤️

 

Thank you Tulsi!

 

This is great advice, as always. Thanks!

 

Thanks a lot Josue

 

as i read this article and find something and so i could call the author mentor.
in my view, the key is yourself, just do it. there are so many fantastic source in internet, just search for

 

What are your thoughts on a person's boss being their mentor? Do you think those relationships can work with the power dynamic at play?

I really enjoyed your post and learned from it. Thank you.

 

Hey Kyla! Thank you for reading. Great question I would say it depends. I would say my boss is one my mentors but he doesn’t exploit that power dynamic.

So it can work it just depends on the individuals