Most entrepreneurs, musicians, artists, and successful business people have, at one time or another, had mentors that assisted them in their career, business or psychology. And, most of these professionals will continue to have mentors throughout their lives and will go on to mentor others. A mentor is someone who can guide you (or take you under his or her wing) in becoming a better professional. But finding a mentor can be a daunting task. In this article we give you the top strategies for finding a mentor and for asking someone to be your mentor.
Here are my top 5 ways to find a mentor for you and your business:
#1 Do your homework first.
Never tell a prospective mentor you are not sure how they can be of assistance to you, or that you do not have a business plan. Lay some very real groundwork on your project or idea, such as having all the financials in place, or a brochure describing your product or service. When asking someone to be your mentor, find out what you can do in preparation for a mentoring session and be willing to do the work necessary for your first call.
#2 Know yourself and your business or project.
List your strengths and weaknesses. Describe your goals, business and/or project to help clarify where a mentor can be of assistance. Write down the types of qualities you desire in a mentor. Evaluate your own personality type. Think about what you are looking for in a relationship. The clearer you are about this, the better idea you can give a mentor of what type of support you need.
#3 Use your connections.
Your alumni associations, professors, clients, social media friends & connections, all are good resources for finding a mentor.
#4 Join a group.
Utilize social media; Linkedin has numerous entrepreneur groups you can join and post a discussion. Investment groups, local business groups and networking groups have been established to gather like-minded people and to assist them in their business growth.
#5 Ask for referrals.
Tell everyone you know – your friends, family, co-workers, retired executives, neighbors – that you need a mentor. Everyone you talk to is a potential resource for finding a mentor. Now that you have identified some prospective mentors, it’s time to ask someone to be your mentor!
Here our my 5 Top Strategies for Asking Someone to Be Your Mentor
#1 Bring something to the table.
Analyze what you have to offer in exchange for a mentor’s time. Do you have a database or a highly trafficked website where you can highlight the mentor’s business? Are you able to joint venture on a project by offering a resource the prospective mentor doesn’t have? For example, you have a distribution center that does not offer a product similar to the mentor’s service or product and you make your distribution center available for their product.
#2 Be complimentary.
Before approaching a prospective mentor, become familiar with their business, service or product. If they have a website, visit the site. If they speak in front of groups, attend a speaking engagement. Tell the prospective mentor what you admire about them and where you see they might be able to compliment you and your business.
#3 Ask how they got started.
This is a good reminder of the fact that they probably had mentors that helped them along the way and they may have a desire to repay the generosity of others. Ask for ideas, based on their experience, of ways you might find a mentor and how their mentor helped them. This is a way of establishing a good framework for that person’s assistance.
#4 Offer to pay.
When you are asking someone for their valuable time you should be willing to honor the value they bring to the table with some financial compensation. In all likelihood someone who is willing to mentor you will not ask to be paid for their support, but the offer to pay should be made to show that you truly value the other person’s contribution.
#5 Appeal to common interests.
Chances are you are approaching an individual because you already believe common interests exist. This could be that you both share the same level of passion for business, have the same values, belong to related industries or groups, have the same level of commitment to goals and visions, to name a few.
Lastly – don’t assume.
Don’t assume the other person has time. Don’t assume they would be a good fit for you. Don’t assume they would be willing to mentor you. Don’t assume they have a genuine interest in your growth. The best mentors share the same level of interest and commitment as you.
Be prepared to be a good mentee. Always take the advice of a mentor seriously and follow-up on suggestions or “homework” assignments. And, always send a thank you letter or email to everyone who supported you or mentored you. I wish you great success with your mentoring experience.
Theresa Bradley-Banta, co-creator of http://www.bigfishtopdogs.com, has been a self-employed entrepreneur for the last 25 years and is a mentor, musician, award winning graphic artist, blogger and owner of multiple businesses.