Finding a mentor is no easy task

Last week we explored the need as entrepreneurs to have mentors, encouragers, and a sounding board. Everyone from Sir Richard Branson to Sheryl Sandberg have had mentors throughout their lives. Think about Mark Zuckerburg and his successes. You must wonder if he would be where he is today without having the late Steve Jobs as his mentor. And as we know first hand, having someone to call on in times of great stress or great success, is crucial. Greetly wouldn’t be where we are today without the mentors that we’ve all had relationships with over the years. We received a few follow-up questions from last week’s post which made us realize

Searching for a mentor can be a daunting, and sometimes intimidating, path to take for a small business owner or entrepreneur.

People often liken it to asking someone out for the first time, but this shouldn’t be treated like any blind date. As Sandberg says in her book Lean In, “If someone has to ask the question, the answer is probably no. When someone finds the right mentor, it is obvious. The question becomes a statement. Chasing or forcing that connection rarely works.”

So, with that in mind, where do you begin the search for your mentor?

1. Look around you:

Mentors don’t have to be your senior leadership team, CEOs, or even older than you. Spend time thinking about who you look up to and who you admire in your office, group of friends, or extended networks. These types of connections are often the most natural and the easiest (read: least time consuming) place to start. And, consider talking to your peer networks about your search for a mentor. You never know who they might suggest, or who your friend’s uncle’s next door neighbor may be.

2. Determine your needs:

At different stages in your career, you’ll need different types of support. Think about the type of mentorship you’re looking for, and search accordingly. You don’t go to the barber to ask about knee pain, so choose wisely. If you’re looking for advice as you get your business up and running, find someone who has been there a few times over. Seek out those whose advice you might value for ways to think through problems, tackle dilemmas, handle difficult (but critical) people and get noticed and tracked.

3. Be mentorable:

Be the type of mentee that people want to mentor. You will truly, whole heartedly, get what you give. This doesn’t mean that you have to take excessive notes or hang on their every word, but be eager to learn and dedicated to developing a long lasting relationship with your mentor. Remember to thank them (profusely) for their time. More than likely your mentor is BUSY, so be truly aware of the time they are giving you, use it efficiently and effectively.

4. Networking, Not just a Four Letter Word:

No, we don’t mean you have to attend every mixer that gets tossed your way through blind LinkedIn invitation, but, Be Visible! Research events like local Meetups, StartUp Weeks, industry nights, etc. Attend them! And actually have conversations with real life people. You may not find your Obi Won, but hey, you could learn a bit during the search. While it may not be the #1 way you’d like to spend your Tuesday evening, it’s important to make time for networking, especially as you search for a mentor. And lastly, Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) are independent organizations that provide resources, expertise, and advice to emerging entrepreneurs in major cities across the country, funded by the Small Business Association. A few minutes of quick research on your local SBDC could provide you with countless resources and opportunities on a local level.

There is no shortcut or “easy button” approach to finding a good mentor, this isn’t The Bachelor after all.

Now that you have a simple roadmap to beginning the search, get after it! Dedicate some time each week to reconnecting with your network, developing new relationships, thinking through what you need, and working towards the goal of finding a mentor.

Originally posted by Greetly virtual mailbox at https://www.greetly.com/blog/finding-mentor-no-easy-task. Republished with permission.

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