Mentors are a wonderful tool in your early career. They have life experience with the issues you are currently facing, will help you talk through these issues, and will be objective in solving your problems. Guidance without emotion involved is so helpful when you’re faced with tough decisions for the first time.
What makes a good mentor?
- They should be an expert in your field.
You can learn from successful people in other fields but having a background and life experiences in YOUR field will make their advice and coaching more applicable, as well as any business connections they are willing to share with you.
- They should be excited to share their knowledge with you!
If they’re not, do not invest your time in trying to make them excited and willing to share.
- Do you respect each other?
Even though you are newer to the field, you should be treated with respect, not condescension. And you should respect their ethics. If you find their business ethics problematic, say goodbye.
- Are they a good active listener?
Make sure they aren’t using your time to speak at you about whatever they want to discuss. You need someone who wants to address your questions.
- Do they offer honest, direct feedback?
You are building a business, you do not need to waste time with them beating around the bush.
- AND OF COURSE, do you like each other?
You’ll be spending a lot of time together, make it enjoyable. Life’s too short not to.
Where do you connect with a mentor?
There are websites, networking, incubator events, soroptimist is a great program for female entrepreneurs, your faith community. You probably already know someone who would be a wonderful mentor, you just need to ask.
Now that you know where to look and what to look for, set up a few lunches or coffee dates to see if the potential mentors are a good fit. Then you’ll be on your way to taking your business to the next level.