One of the best ways to break into a chosen field or learn more about becoming an entrepreneur is to find someone that has gone before you and gained success at the same goal. This person has the ability to provide valuable advice and encouragement as a mentor. Choosing a mentor is not necessarily a difficult task, but it also shouldn’t be something you jump into haphazardly. When choosing a mentor, you will want to consider a few things to ensure a proper fit.
It’s important to make sure your values align with the person you are looking toward as a potential mentor. Finding someone with values similar to yours will lead to a better relationship. In order to do this, you must know what your values are. Write your values down and really consider them. Compromising your values could lead to unhappiness, so it is of utmost importance to make sure you know what they are and what they mean to you. Do you believe in work/life balance? Do you put your family first? Then someone who works 60+ hours a week might not be a great fit as your mentor. You will learn more from someone whose values mirror your own.
Many people are very successful in their chosen field but might not be able to effectively convey what they have done to get there. You will want to make sure the person you have in mind is able to communicate in an manner that is easy for you to understand. You can do this by observing how he or she interacts with other people. Do they convey their feelings or ideas with ease and tact? Do they communicate with others willingly? These are important attributes to look for not only because your mentor will be able to communicate with you effectively, but also because the interaction will help you become a better communicator.
In order to teach anything as a mentor, that person must be willing to help. Just because someone has found success does not mean they will readily share it with you. Before asking someone to mentor you, get to know them a little bit first. Have lunch with them, and see if they are open to talking about their successes. Ask if they have mentored anyone in the past. Get a feel for their personality, and make sure they want to share the information you need.
You will want to make sure you clearly define what you are looking for in the relationship between you and your mentor. This means you should have an idea of how much time you would like to spend with this person and what activities you would like to partake in. Do you want to shadow them frequently? Would you like to have time to ask them questions outside their professional setting? These are the types of activities that you should inquire about and outline before committing to a specific person. It is important to make sure you are explicit in your expectations so that you and your potential mentor are on the same page.
Believe it or not, personality is definitely something to consider when choosing a mentor. If you are an introvert and your prospective mentor is the opposite, you might find yourself uncomfortable. Or, maybe you are looking for someone more extroverted so that you can emulate some of these qualities. This is something you will want to define for yourself before you seek out a mentor that possesses these attributes.
When you take the time to map out your goals and what you want in a mentor, most of the work is already done.
Have you had success with a mentor in the past? Do you mentor? If so, what advice do you have for someone seeking one?
Featured photo credit: Businessmen discussing document/Victor1558 via flickr.com
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