Why should you have a mentor? A mentor is someone who can offer you a different perspective. A good mentor does not offer you specific advice, instead helps you to find the answers yourself. A good mentor will encourage you; tell you the truth even when the truth hurts and will also celebrate your success. A good mentor can help you through tough decisions and can be a sounding board for new ideas.
Mentors genuinely enjoy helping others, seeing others reach success and helping others not make the same mistakes they might have made. A good mentor/mentee relationship gives both parties a reward. You can pay a mentor for their services or you can always give your mentor gifts, or pay for lunch when you meet up as a token of your appreciation. Or you can help them in their business by referring clients. Finding a good mentor requires some planning and thought.
- Identify some possible candidates. They might be friends, family or simply someone you respect in the business world. If you are choosing family or friends, be careful. Business and pleasure do not always mix. But if you are sure they are far enough removed from you then go for it. When asking around, other people may suggest contacts who you can consider asking.
- When you do approach someone to ask if they would be a mentor, ask nicely, be polite and say why you thought of them. If you admire their skills, tell them. This is the best way to get someone to say yes, as well as check that they are a good fit.
- Consider how the relationship will work. What are you looking for? Try not to be too needy. Define whether you will meet in person, or over the phone. Once a month or once a week? Your arrangement should suit both parties.
- Try to find a mentor that while does think in similar ways to you, also pushes you to think about things in a different way. Your mentor should be someone who you occasionally disagree with, can have a mature debate or discussion with as well as someone who has a broad view. Yes you want someone you can gel with and enjoy their company, but you also want someone to push your boundaries.
- Keep honing your own gut instinct. Don’t get too dependent on your mentor for every little decision. And remember, you don’t have to take every bit of advice your mentor gives you.
- Have more than one. Yes you can have several mentors if you like. Each mentor will bring a different point of view and come to topics with varying opinions. They will also have different expertise and experience.
- Say thanks and make sure your mentor knows they are appreciated. Share your successes with them and for goodness sake, pay for lunch if you meet up. Know their birthday and send them a card every year.
- Finally, know when to stop. If someone can no longer act as your mentor then do not stress. Thank them for their time up until now and move on. Change is good.