Let’s face it, there’s a lot to learn when it comes to running a business. Some of the learning comes from trial and error. Some of the learning comes from doing courses, watching YouTube videos and reading books. However, learning can also come from listening to others who are in your field and industry. When I think about what I wish someone taught me about business, the answer is clear; mentorship. I wish someone taught me about the importance of mentorship as a business owner. Having someone in the industry with expertise, who have already experienced and overcome challenges could have helped me avoid the pitfalls of business and expedited my success journey. I believe you could reap the benefits of mentorship too.
Did you know January is National Mentoring Month? This is a great time to share what you need to know about mentorship.
What is a Mentor and what does mentorship entail?
First, let’s define a mentor. A mentor is simply a trusted guide. In other words, a mentor has the ability to guide you or counsel you in a specific area, in this case, business.
Mentorship is simply the relaying of expertise, information, and sometimes connections from an experienced person to a more inexperienced person.
Why You Should Find a Mentor
Having a mentor is key when you’re starting out in business or even if you’ve been in it for a couple of years. Here are some reasons why you should go find a mentor:
Mentors can share connections and opportunities with you that you wouldn’t otherwise have access to
You can learn tips and tricks from someone who has been in your situation
Mentors will help you build a successful career
Mentors will share important information with you about all aspects of a business
The knowledge gained can accelerate your success
What To Look For in a Mentor
Mentorship is a type of relationship and like with every type of relationship, it can be either healthy or unhealthy. Look for a mentor who:
Listens to your concerns and offers advice
Has established healthy boundaries
Motivates and encourages you to achieve your business goals
Shares their knowledge, expertise, and connections.
What Avoid in a Mentor
Not all mentors are created equal and not every person in your industry will be a good mentor to you. Someone simply having the expertise and experience doesn’t mean they’ll make a good mentor for you. In addition to that, it’s okay if you and your mentor don’t click, don’t give up on mentorship, just find another one! Here are some things you may want to avoid in a mentor:
A condescending personality
Someone who is judgemental or condemns your business choices
Someone who wants to run the business for you and doesn’t value what you have to say
Someone who doesn’t establish healthy boundaries
A person who doesn’t share their knowledge and expertise
How to Ask For Mentorship
The good news is, finding a mentor isn’t hard. There are many people just waiting on someone to mentor and share information with.
1. Start within your own professional network
You can actually just reach out to someone who you have access to, who you think would be a good mentor, and ask them. You can even get suggestions from people in your network.
2. Connect with them via LinkedIn
If you’re not on LinkedIn, make your account right now. LinkedIn is a great place for business owners and other professionals. It widens the number of people who you may access to. You can connect with someone on LinkedIn that you wouldn’t have otherwise met in your day to day life. You can connect with your future mentor, message them and the rest could be history. Since you probably don’t know the person you’re connecting with on LinkedIn, it’s important to establish a relationship first before you go asking favors.
Networking can actually help you find a great mentor. You really have to put yourself out there. At events, strike up conversations and try to establish a relationship. Remember to keep things casual and respectful and not to come on too strong, people don’t like that. Don’t scare your potential mentor away by being too pushy. Just focus on attending these events and establishing relationships.
4. Join SCORE
SCORE is a large network of volunteers that mentor people with small businesses to help them get the business off the ground, achieve their goals, and succeed overall. Not only does SCORE connect you with a mentor for free, the organization also has free online workshops and courses as well as local events and a myriad of online resources. If you haven’t visited them yet, you absolutely should.
How To Be a Mentor
Maybe you’re reading this blog post and you’re the one with the experience and expertise looking for someone to share it with. If you’re looking for a mentee, there are programs online that ask for mentors to join, you can ask around or use the power of social media to connect you with someone willing to learn. I’m a mentor on SCORE, a subject matter expert, and a workshop facilitator. If you want to be a mentor I recommend that you check out SCORE too. Remember, some people may really want mentorship but are too shy to ask, there is nothing wrong with reaching out and volunteering your time.
As a woman in business, I believe you should really look into mentorship. It can be rewarding for both the mentee and the mentor and can help you achieve your business goals more quickly. Your job as a mentee is to come willing to work, have clear goals and ready to step out of their comfort zone to achieve success.
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Have you had a mentor before? Have you been a mentor before? What has your experience been? Comment and tell us down below.