As a Career and Business Coach, and during my 9 years of corporate experience, I have had a lot of experiences as a mentor and a mentee. Mentoring is a frequent topic raised by clients, and there can be confusion over why you need a mentor and how you get one. I hope to distil some of these myths and give you some prompts about how to secure a mentor to help you level up and smash your goals!
A mentor can be anyone that is someone that offers skills, advice and support and can take on an advisory or guiding role. A common misconception of mentoring is that they need to be more senior than us. That doesn’t need to be the case. Reverse mentoring has become popular recently, where people new to their career help mentor someone more senior and experienced on specific skills (common ones being digitally related).
You will probably already have different types of mentors – people that you have sought one-off advice from, people that you often meet for a coffee and advice or people that you check in with once a year. There is a breadth of mentoring relationships, and they can be as informal or formal as you’d like to make them. Surrounding yourself with a network of people who can help you (like the lovely members at Found and Flourish!) is a driver for success!
If you ask most aspirational business people whether they have a mentor, you will hear a well resounding “yes”! From Mark Zuckerberg to Elizabeth Taylor: they have all spoken positively about having a mentor. Oprah once said, “mentors are important, and I don’t think anyone makes it in the world without some form of mentorship”.
Here are some prompts as you think about mentorship:
A successful mentoring relationship tends to be goal orientated, so you need to get really clear on why you need a mentor. The more specific the goal, the better in my experience. You may want to broaden your network, hone a new skill, move into a new area, push sales growth or scale your business. Having the clarity of why and taking time to think through this in relation to your goals, will mean you are more likely to find the right mentor, and they are able to help you
Have a think about the goals for your business for the remainder of the year. Which goals would a mentor be able to support you with? That could be running ideas past them and using them as a sounding board or getting their advice because they have done something similar. Getting specific on the goal will allow you to determine the right mentor to help support you!
Think about what you need from that person – is it to increase your network? Is it a sounding board? Is it for feedback? Being able to clearly articulate what you are looking for in a mentor is really helpful for them and will allow them to understand if they are the right person to help you.
Think about how often you would like to meet (would it be a coffee chat once in a while or a zoom chat every few weeks). Getting clear on your expectations and level of support needed will help determine the right mentor to support you!
Mentoring relationships don’t need to last forever (but they can last for a long time if that works for you) Have a think about how long you’d need support from your mentor – is it in the run-up to a new launch? For a 6 month period as you expand your network?
As a small business owner, a potential mentor could be someone you know very well, perhaps they already have a connection to your business (e.g. partner or investor) or could be in a similar industry or have a skill set you are looking to build yourself. They could also be someone who you don’t know, or have a loose connection to – perhaps someone you follow on Instagram or someone in a different industry.
One way you can map out potential mentors is by brainstorming everyone you know that fits the bill of what you are looking to achieve as a goal. Utilise your network to help add to the list, so you have a good variety! A great way to map this out is to do a spider diagram and brain dump everyone you know of that could be a potential mentor. Now you have a list of people, start pulling together a shortlist of people to contact that you think would be the best fit to help you achieve your goal.
Now, this part can be the scary part, but don’t let that put you off! You now have a name or 2 of people you think will be a good fit. Depending on whether you know them or not will determine how you contact them.
If you don’t know them then reach out to your network to see if you know anyone that does (and has a positive relationship with them!). Having someone introduce you, makes it much more likely for them to respond and is a good first step at building rapport. If that doesn’t work then contact them directly (email/social media/call) detailing out what you are looking for, why you think they will be a good fit and whether you could have an initial conversation. The initial conversation is key to really understand if the relationship mutually a good fit if you don’t get on with each other, then you aren’t going to get what you need out of the relationship.
If you know them already and have that relationship with them, then it is still worth detailing out what you are looking for and why you have asked them.
Don’t be put off if the response you get is a no. Be aware that most successful people tend to have several mentees already so may be strapped for time. The fact you are clear on your ask is brilliant and definitely not always the case. Go back to your map and look to contact someone else.
So there you have it, mentoring in a nutshell. I hope you found this post useful and use some of the prompts to help you secure a mentor to level up and smash your goals! You can find me on Instagram, LinkedIn or blogging away on my website!
About your author
Emily is a Career and Business Coach and pivoted from her successful 9 year career in the Corporate World in order to set up her own business ‘Emily Button Creative’; which aims to inspire, guide and motivate women to re-define their own version of success, curate and design their life vision and make it happen.
I’m Samantha Jameson, the Founder of British hand, bath and body care brand, Soapsmith.
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