5 Ways to Find and Keep a Mentor

This post was written by Trey Bowles, Serial Entrepreneur, @treybowles

One of the biggest needs in the world of entrepreneurship is the need for a successful mentoring relationship. But far too often, I see entrepreneurs asking to meet with mentors only to brashly discard the priceless wise counsel shared by mentors. I constantly hear of startups and entrepreneurs searching for mentors and a relationship with people who are experts in their respective fields! So, just to make it amply clear and easy for entrepreneurs, I’m writing about an approach that will help create a mutually beneficial relationship between mentor and mentee.

Before I do, here’s a quick reality check from a mentor’s perspective. We are all busy and we don’t have time to do all of the work we have on our own plate, much less take on someone else’s problems. We fight a daily battle of trying to accomplish all of our own to-do lists without having to worry about the weight of another startup or entrepreneurs’ business on our shoulders. However, almost all of us realize that we have had someone who took time to invest in us when we were getting started and we would not be where we are today without that influence and relationship.

1. Ask the Mentor to Participate

You do not have, because you do not ask. First identify the type of person you would like to mentor you – this should be either an expert in your field or someone who would be a good personal fit for you. Then ask!

2. Present the Mentor with a Plan

Come with a plan. Sounds simple enough, but you have no idea how often this is ignored.

3. Prepare the Mentor for the Meeting

Prior to your monthly meeting, send the mentor three questions or topics that you would like to discuss with them. Don’t be vague with questions like “how do I get rich” or “tell me how to be successful.” Rather, ask specific questions like “what are three ways in which I can motivate my sales team” or “how much transparency do I need to have with my staff.”

4. Ask for Homework

This may sound a bit silly, but do ask your mentor for homework. Ask questions like “what can I do to prepare for our next meeting.” You can also recap the advice and counsel you were given in that day’s meeting and convert them into action items that you would want to update the mentor on in your next meeting.

5. Deliver on the Advice from the Mentor

DO what you say you are going to DO. This is the most important component of cultivating a mentor relationship. There is nothing that will endear a mentor to you more than you doing what they are asking you to do. My experience has been that the more you do, the more advice and time a mentor is willing to spend with you.

Don’t ask someone to spend time, effort and resources on you if you are not willing to do the same for someone else. Return the favor. Seek out and find people who are a few years behind you and who might be able to learn from your experience. I think at the core, we all want to help others. We are willing to go the extra mile to share experiences, advice and counsel. The key is to letting us help you is to convince us that you are going to do something worthwhile with that help and advice. 

 

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Opinions and statements expressed by guest bloggers are theirs alone, not opinions of The Startup America Partnership.