Having a mentor is one of the best careers moves one can make. In business, a relationship in which a more experienced partner guides a less experienced partner contributes to an integral part of its success story.
Asking for mentorship doesn’t mean you’re admitting that you don’t already know what you’re doing, or that you’re asking someone else to do the work that is supposed to be your job.
It is simply another form of networking and getting exposure to people with experience.
Business mentors share personal and professional expertise, guidance, and business contacts with an individual (the protégé or mentee) with the primary purpose of assisting the mentee in reaching their goals in life and business.
Mentors have been playing an important role in the lives of others for thousands of years.
This practice has become particularly popular in recent years, with many large corporations putting practices in place to facilitate formal mentoring relationships.
For example, in 2003 Merrill Lynch launched a global leadership program that utilized formalized mentoring relationships to help develop promising employees.
Who is a mentor?
A mentor is different from a tutor in that the former is someone older who helps guide the latter, usually a less experienced one through various aspects of life.
Here are some tips on how to ask someone to be your mentor:
When you are looking for a mentor, it’s important to be clear about what you want to learn.
Make your expectations clear so there is no misunderstanding about the relationship.
The best way to start a mentorship is with an email or call out of the blue. This can seem terrifying if it’s not something you’re used to doing. But, if done right it’s really not that difficult.
Before emailing or asking in person, set up a brief phone call. This will give you an opportunity to talk about your goals and let the person know why it’s important for them to help you achieve these goals.
Before making this call or sending this email, make sure your elevator pitch is ready.
This should be a short summary of who you are and what motivates you professionally and personally.
Mentorship programs can be as informal as a group of co-workers who meet once a week at lunch to discuss career issues, or they can be formalized through an organization with specific goals and objectives.
Either way, though, mentorship programs are designed to get someone started in their chosen field with some guidance from more experienced people.
What makes a good mentor?
A good Mentor would always listen to you without judgment or interrupting you at times, despite having more experience than you do.
This is easier said than done, find good consulting clients who are willing to spend money on you, value your work and keep coming back for more – someone whose career path you want to follow.
Don’t take it personally if they say no. Some people are uncomfortable with the idea of mentoring because they don’t want to feel like it puts them on the spot or makes them responsible for their success or failure.
Look at their blog, read some of their speeches or articles, check out their LinkedIn profile — what do they seem to care about? What are their core values? What drives them? If that’s something that matters to you as well, then maybe they’re a person whose advice would be valuable to you.
What makes a good mentee?
I get this question a lot: “I’d like to be an entrepreneur but I don’t know where to start.
What should I do?” Well, a good mentee is someone genuinely interested in the topic for which he chose his mentor.
There’s no one-size-fits-all, but there are some core qualities that define a good Mentee.
It takes someone who is humble enough to be able to learn from others.
Sometimes people are too intimidated to ask questions though or even give up when things get complicated, but you can never solve those problems unless you’re willing to ask for help.
The best programmers I know to love learning how things work and never get frustrated when they’re confused – they persist even when situations get complicated and keep on going until they get better results.
“If I had seen further than others, it’s by standing on the shoulders of giants – Isaac Newton”
The investor mindset.
There is always that one-on-one relationship in which you can discuss your problems with someone else who has already been where you are.
He or she can offer advice on overcoming challenges, improving marketing, managing employees, and growing your business.
Mentors help you think about the big picture of your business.
They will help you think about what you’re doing and why.
They will likely challenge you to change some of the things that you do.
It is not ideal to have a mentor who thinks just like you or who tells you that you’re doing everything right.
Having a mentor will show you there’s always room for improvement and it won’t be long before you’ll begin thinking this way yourself.”
The right business mentors are worth more than money.
They can teach you everything from how to set up your business the best way, the importance of branding and marketing, how to get customers, how to manage people, how to grow your business, and much more.
How do you find a good mentor? First, decide what area of your business needs help.
If you are looking for help with marketing or branding, perhaps there is someone in your network who could offer these services.
Let them know that you are looking for their expertise and see if they are interested in working with you on a project basis.
Find someone who has been successful in the field that interests you. You need someone who has actually done what they are advising other people on doing. They can give you an insider’s perspective on all aspects of your business.