Starting out on a new career or business venture can be daunting, particularly if you are new to an industry, or a career switcher at the beginning of the steep climb towards your career goals.
Having a mentor throughout your journey to guide and support you can make a significant difference to your success. Learning from those who have already trodden the hard fought path with success, can save you time and wasted energy – if you adhere to their relevant ‘golden nuggets of wisdom’, and take the necessary action that follows this.
The Benefits of Good Mentor
A good mentor can provide a range of benefits, that can’t be learnt from a textbook. They have a combination of detailed industry knowledge and can give you personal introductions to their contacts, which have often taken them many years to establish – Priceless!
And that’s just the start….having a sounding board, gaining valuable feedback and getting a different or wider perspective can help you avoid costly mistakes. Gaining the right dose of challenge that will push you out of your comfort zone can turbo charge your career.
A mentor can help shape your personal brand – while you may have the right qualifications on paper, you may still need to fine-tune the skills needed to succeed in a business/corporate environment; such as the art of negotiation, presenting yourself well, effectively communicating a compelling story, and building relationships when networking, instead of the ‘hard sell’.
Are you hungry to succeed? Do you have vision? Are you prepared to put the work in required to achieve your goals? If you can answer yes, to all three of these questions, its time for you to kick start your mentoring journey.
How to Pick a Suitable Mentor – Do your Homework
Now you’re convinced on the necessity of a mentor, how do you go about finding the perfect match and then, convincing them to share their valuable expertise and experience with you?
Its not enough to pick someone you admire. Be clear about what you want to achieve from your career/business and the mentoring relationship.
Think about why you have chosen that particular mentor and what attributes they could impart that will specifically help to move you forward. Ideally, if you have something to offer of value to your mentor also, this is a bonus. With every one of my coaching clients, the learning process is two-way, so don’t underestimate what you could bring to the relationship. Many successful people are interested in ‘giving back’ and empowering the next generation.
Finding the Right Mentor
Don’t go in cold – establish a two-way relationship
It’s always better to establish a two-way relationship before you ask someone to mentor you. You will have a chance to see if this person is a good fit with you, and its much more effective than cold calling someone you don’t know. A potential mentor could have all the right skills and experience on paper, but could have a completely conflicting personality type that could clash with you and unwittingly sabotage the whole exercise. The more self-awareness you have, the better decision you are likely to make.
Similarly, it isn’t always necessary to go for big name titles, or vast experience. Begin with the end in mind – have your goals set out and be clear about what do you want to achieve. Have a compelling reason for your potential mentor to give up their valuable time, particularly if you do not have prior relationship with this person.
Richard Branson offers some great advice, obvious to some but underutilised my many. Do some research. Try going to industry events like lunches, seminars, talks and conferences. Join community groups – your local Chamber of Commerce is a great place to start, they often host networking events and meetings that bring entrepreneurs and successful businesspeople together. Talk to people, listen to their stories and pursue further meetings with those whom you can learn from. Join professional societies in your area of interest.
‘Warming up’ Potential Mentors Online
If you do go in cold, try these tips to warm up the coldest of leads online.
You can find a potential mentor’s name is online. Look for sector – or industry-specific events and groups on Facebook and LinkedIn; subscribe to useful newsletters; follow interesting or relevant individuals from your region on Twitter or LinkedIn; then get in touch and ask questions. Be sure that you choose someone who has experience and connections within your area and level of career or business.
Make your approach with a compelling elevator pitch
One of the most important things you can learn as a professional or businessperson is how to speak about your work/business to others. Being able to sum up the unique aspects of your purpose, service or product in a way that excites others should be a fundamental skill.
Enter the ‘elevator pitch’ – a quick, concise summation of what you or your company does or makes, delivered with such clarity, that even your mother would be able to understand.
When winning over a mentor; make sure your pitch says who you are, what you want and why it should matter to them. For tips on how to construct a compelling pitch click here or use this link http://www.suzannesimmonslewis.com/2015/09/25/create-a-memorable-first-impression-30-second-elevator-pitch/.
So if you’ve never had a mentor before, or think its time to seek out someone new, get started today, and share your successes with me.
Professional coach, Suzanne Simmons-Lewis helps her clients clarify and achieve their true purpose and ambitions in their careers and businesses, drawing out their unique talents. She inspires, supports and challenges clients in their journey to making their long-held dreams an exciting reality. www.suzannesimmonslewis.com