Why you need a mentor and how to find one

Last night, I was fortunate to have a conversation with a highly successful entrepreneur who offered some excellent advice for improving and growing my business.

Previously, I’d been stuck on one stumbling block that was holding me back (keeping me stuck). Afterward, the path I need to take was clear.

This experience made me think about the power of mentorship and why you need to be mentored by someone who has been there. This is true whether your goal is career advancement, changing careers, or growing a business.

You would be amazed how many successful people have had mentors along the way who helped them. In fact, I suspect that most successful people have probably been mentored at some point.

Advice from random people isn’t nearly as valuable as advice from mentors who have achieved what you’re trying to achieve. And books are great, but a book can’t talk to you and give you tailored feedback.

Securing a Mentor

At this point you might be wondering where and how to find a mentor.

You might look within your organization for a leader you admire who is two or three (or more) steps above you.

You can also locate a successful person in your field through a professional association or by using a tool like LinkedIn, and contact the person.

I listened to career guru Don Orlando give an amazing presentation about mentorship in which he shared his expertise on approaching prospective mentors thoughtfully (learn more in this short clip from his presentation).

Most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask for help. The worst thing someone can say is “no.”

Working with a Mentor

Once you’ve found a mentor, you want to make the most of the relationship.

For starters, you need to open minded about any advice your mentor provides. Don’t shoot down ideas or suggestions right away without considering them. Instead, ask more questions.

It’s also important that you actually implement your mentor’s advice and tell the mentor that you implemented it. (Remember that good advice is only helpful when it gets followed.)

Also, knowing that you’re actually benefiting from the mentorship and using the advice will give the mentor positive encouragement to continue mentoring you. Otherwise, the conversations are just wasted time.

And, finally, be sure to express your gratitude regularly. Find ways to return the favor by helping your mentor. In the case of entrepreneurial mentorship, your mentor might appreciate compensation. Bottom-line: just make sure it’s not a one-way relationship.

If you’re serious about achieving your goals, getting mentorship is critical. Don’t let anything hold you back from taking this important step toward your dreams.

Thank you, laughlin for the great photo on Flickr.

This article by Kelly Donovan first appeared on Tim’s Strategy.