What is the best way to find an import/export mentor?

This question appeared on Quora.

What is the best way to find an import/export mentor?

Several months ago I started reading about careers that would not only allow me to work for myself, but also to travel a bit. Import/Export seems like it may be a good fit but I am having some trouble getting started. I’ve done some reading and research but would like to find a mentor.

I am currently considering writing down a list of the questions that I have, looking for import/exporters on linked in and asking if they will allow me to interview them. From that point, depending on rapport, I can ask if they are interested in mentoring me. I’ve never done this before and was wondering if anyone can recommend a different approach to finding a mentor or is interested in being a mentor.

I’ve found a couple of courses on the Internet as well as people willing to answer my questions in exchange for a consulting fee. I’m sure both of those options are great but I feel that I would benefit more from having a  mentor. I’ve never had a mentor but when one of my coworkers was a mentor for high school students she really did a lot to ensure that they were successful and expected nothing in return from them in exchange for her time. Unlike consultants or someone selling a course, she genuinely wanted them to be successful.

Answer:

I love your question – it is well written – haven’t seen many of descriptive questions on Quora lately.
People who charge money for consulting on Internet are not the best people to take advice from on import and export matters, in my opinion. There are many people who have paid courses on websites like Udemy, CourseWorm, Skillshare etc. They might have that one secret ingredient but not usually. It is a personal choice whether to pay for these courses or not: I wouldn’t.
Now with the good part of your question; I wanted a mentor in this field as well, someone who I did not know personally and who had built an import/export company. I failed to find one. In Dubai, most of the industry is ran by undereducated people – they don’t understand the concept of mentoring someone. BUT they can answer any and all your questions with such excellency, I started doing that as I thought these people were happy to help. So I wasn’t a mentee to anyone but I had 6 different mentors as they helped me get where I am. Same thing happens in Gujarat (if you’re from there) / in India – you will have heard a name or two of the companies that are famous in your city, just call them up and say who you are. Trust me, when you will say you need their expert advice or opinion they will invite you to meet in a week. They will be super excited while answering your question – just don’t go towards financial matters or loose attention while listening, they get annoyed by that easily.
Import/export is an industry where full-time mentor is not just readily available anywhere. They are all there around us – we will have to call a business and find who owns it. After a point, when you get started, you will realize that your competitors are your mentors, and you are to them.
Just start your journey with that one call to your local famous company and ask their help. You will slowly realize everything on your own. You are where I started.
To point to that answer by someone, customers are great but at times they don’t know what they want and you don’t know what they want but one experienced individual in the field knows what you both want – so it does matter to have that one experienced individual.
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