Aspiring entrepreneurs, successful business people, and those just starting out can reap the benefits of having a mentor. More than likely, if you looked back on your life, you would be able to point out the people who helped you, mentors who you aspired to emulate. And the need for mentors doesn’t change as you age. Many of the biggest business people and entrepreneurs credit mentors for the improvement in their own careers.
So, what exactly is the role a mentor should play?
A mentor provides guidance, facilitates networking with essential contacts and can teach you the mistakes they’ve made, so you’re not doomed to repeat them. A mentor can assist you in navigating the cutthroat culture that business has become. They also provide feedback and motivation.
However, before you get to reap all the benefits of having a mentor, you have to find the right one. For some people this is easy. They immediately think of someone who fits the role for them. That’s great! For others, however, there needs to be a lot of thought put into the decision.
First, you’ll have to determine your goals and what you might need a mentor for. What do you want in a mentor?
Once you’ve determined your needs, you will need to find someone who fits those categories. You’ll want someone who has been in a similar position or situation as you and has succeeded.
Be on the lookout. The most obvious place to start would be at work. Is there a manager or colleague who has all the things you need in a mentor? Consider individuals who have strengths in the places you most need to develop.
“Working with great people makes you great; you learn a lot and it also gives you the experience and confidence to move on with your own career.” – Nas
This is the slightly awkward part.
You now need to ask the person you’ve selected to be your mentor. There are several ways to go about this. Many companies now days have official mentoring programs and you could use this to get placed with the person you want. However, the majority of times you’ll just have to ask. State why you look up to this person, how you think they can help you, and list your goals.
If you’re too shy to ask, this might be another point you need to work on when you do get a mentor.
You should remember that you don’t have to restrict yourself to only having a single mentor.
You can find several people who offer expertise in different areas. This not only expands your contact list, but you’ll also be getting extra advice, extra information, and more opportunities. But, remember you still need to be selective about who you ask. Quantity does not always equal quality.
Now that you have a mentor, you need to make sure the time you spend together is used efficiently. Remember your goals and why you fostered this relationship. Whenever you meet with your mentor, state your needs and concerns and then listen. That’s the biggest part of a mentor-mentee relationship: Listening.
If you have problems or need advice, prepare how you’ll discuss them beforehand, so you don’t waste precious time. But, remember your mentor isn’t going to be an expert in everything, so don’t put that type of pressure on them. And always be open to their feedback. This might be hard at first, but remember your goals.
Once you’ve had a positive experience with a mentor, you might consider becoming a mentor yourself. When you’ve succeeded in your goals and have years of expertise behind you, it might be time to give back. Keep an eye out for young people who have potential, but need guidance.
Remember how you were helped and how someone took time for you. You could start an amazing chain reaction that continues to help young business people and entrepreneurs for years to come!