The online Thesaurus defines a Mentor as someone who aids another in achieving his/her goals.
Typically mentors are associated with wisdom and grey hair – but even a young person can be your mentor – depending on his skill and willingness to help. The key trait of a mentor one can say is the willingness to share his experience/knowledge to professionally help someone achieve his goals.
The usage of the term mentor in a professional sense has confused the people into believing that mentors need to be found in official suits and cabins. That is not always necessary.
Your mentor could be your school teacher – to whom you go and share your achievements or failures and who might share with you some words of wisdom.An uncle who takes a special interest in you could be your mentor. Your parents, your brother or sister could do the same role. And, no one stops you from having more than one mentor. The more people there are with whom you can discuss your thoughts and plans – the better for you.
The benefits of having a mentor –
- You get an experienced hand to guide you
- Coaching to provide shortcuts to success
- Support and motivation
- Contacts , wider Network
- Friendship / Fun
Now in case you are looking for a mentor having a specific experience – how do you go about it?
How to find a Business Mentor
- Know what you want.
Ask yourself what you expect of your mentor. Are you looking at someone with an inside track to things or are you looking at someone more general who can be a sounding board and help you with a big picture view.
- Start with your Network
Sometimes the best place to start is your own relatives.You can talk to your own people , friend and relatives who you rust and with whom you cn talk freely.
- Check out the extended network
This could include friends of friends. Referrals from your family members. Linkedin can be another good source.Shortlist suitable candidates based on their Professional profiles. Then approach over phone, inmail or ask a common contact to introduce. You can upfront mention what you want to discuss – whether you have specific questions or you just want to pick his/her brain.
- Tap your industry
Your suppliers , your local chamber of commerce and trade publications are a good place to start .These are good places to locate experienced knowledgeable people. Once you have done so you can meet them or ask check with a few people about the person before approaching the person directly
- Steer clear of the ” will you be my mentor”
This question is not going to be helpful because from the mentors perspective it is needless baggage. the approach needs to be in smaller steps maybe just a coffee meeting initially and if there is temperament match you can take it forward based on mutual acceptance.
- Alternative Mentors – Peer Group
A diverse peer group can provide some of the benefits of having a mentor.
Peers can provide encouragement, and support. They can probably even help you with access to connections and important people.
And if your peer group is diverse and ambitious enough, some of them will even be able to coach you or share experience you might not have.
Good luck with your search for a mentor. Hope you find this post useful. And incase you have any interesting stories to share about your “mentor search ” experience – you can share it with me on linkedin.