Do you remember how excited you felt when the idea for your current business first hit you? Do you ever wish you had someone in your life to inspire more of those kinds of lightbulb moments? This is where a mentor comes in. Mentors can act as sounding boards for ideas and can help you focus on where to take your business next. They can also help get the word out about your work to other people you admire.
But how do you go about finding someone to encourage your next steps? Here are four ways to find a business mentor.
Don’t rush it.
Asking someone to be your mentor straight out can be a bit off-putting, especially if the person you’re asking has never been a mentor before. Think about your existing business relationships and single out the people whose work you appreciate the most. Would any of those people be open to meeting occasionally over coffee? Start with someone you already have a connection with and build on it.
Have a personality.
Are you ready to be mentored? Think about what you want to get out of the relationship and what you have to give. Finding a mentor is a two-way street, and you need to make sure that your attitude and business will be attractive to potential mentors, who are likely to be busy people pressed for time. Don’t assume that your mentor needs to be older than you: Although this is often the case, a younger person might also have a lot to teach.
Nobody wants to feel like a cyberstalker, but social media can help speed up the process of developing a relationship with a mentor. Build up a rapport by connecting on LinkedIn, engaging on Twitter, and responding when your potential mentor shares something you find interesting. Initiate contact respectfully and begin a relationship that could blossom into a real-life meeting.
Become a mentor yourself.
Helping someone else can feel great, and it can give you important perspective on the mentor/mentee dynamic. Keep your eyes open for colleagues who might need a little support or encouragement. Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, credits much of his success to having had his own mentor when he was starting out. He believes that once you are successful, then you should pay it forward through mentoring. First stop: Mentoring. Up next: World domination!