Think back to a time when someone inspired you. Perhaps they spoke at an event you attended. You may remember a college professor who you loved. Whatever your memory, you probably thought of that person as a mentor. For me, it was my 8th grade English teacher, Mrs. Kranick. That year I learned the true power of mentorship and this relationship changed my life.
What was it about that person that gave you inspiration? Was it the way they spoke or was it the message they presented? Mentors have a way of giving us the needed push to accomplish what we thought was impossible.
You don’t need a face-to-face relationship for someone to be considered a mentor. In fact, you could read about someone in history or read a biography on the person. Sometimes, you may find a TED Talk that moves you. Then, you reach out to that person and let them know how it moved you. Correspondence can develop where you bounce ideas to this person.
Mentorships help people by giving them the push they need to get to a higher level. Sometimes, you simply don’t know what to do next. A mentor will show you some possibilities. While they shouldn’t decide for you, they can give you some much-needed guidance. The power of mentorship consists of many layers.
You should never blame a mentor for anything related to your life or career. If you follow the advice of a mentor and it doesn’t work out, you either didn’t follow all the steps, or it simply may not be the right path for you. The responsibility rests with you. Taking full responsibility is one of the secrets of success I learned early on in my work as an online entrepreneur.
While there are bad mentors, it is up to you to learn how to find the right ones. But, once you do, you will have guidance that can help you attain your goals. You must be willing to take the advice of your mentor. The actions required could take you outside of your comfort zone. Often, that is how you break through barriers that are holding you back. When that happens, you will see the value of a mentor that much more.
Some mentors may seem out of reach to you because of how much they cost. Some people are lucky to receive free mentoring. But, if you don’t have that luxury, keep in mind what you are getting out of the deal. If you advance in your career quicker than your colleagues because you paid for a decent mentor, can you put a price on that? You will more than cover the cost of both salary and relationships that you gain from the arrangement.
How to Choose a Mentor
You may have heard that working with a mentor can accelerate your growth in your career and/or your business. A mentor can streamline your learning process and help you stand clear of the pitfalls that most people without a mentor go through. However, trying to find the right mentor can be a challenge. Use these tips to help you in selecting one.
It seems obvious that a good mentor should have integrity. However, some people look good on the surface, and deep down they won’t take the relationship seriously, or worse, will throw you under the bus. One way I use to test if a relationship is going to work for me is to have a brief, yet meaningful conversation around the topic of morning routines. This helps me to gauge if I am on the same page as the person I’m speaking with that day.
Knowing whether a person has integrity is going to take some detective work. You may want to ask questions of others who know the potential mentor. If something is not right with the person, others will clue you in on their experiences. Try to find out some information online about the person. Use search engines, ask questions in forums, ask questions on social networks. Your research might take a little while, but it will be time well spent.
Mentors should also have a good knowledge base. You don’t want to find a mentor who has never experienced what you are trying to learn. Some people are good at pretending. However, when you come across situations that require certain expertise, these people will fall short. To know whether a potential has the necessary knowledge base, try to get references. Again, online information may uncover the truth about your potential candidates.
At first, you may believe you should choose someone who is like you. However, sometimes the best mentors are those who are different from you. They offer a diversity that you would not get from someone similar. You will gain a perspective of someone different than you.
Try to find a mentor who is well connected. It’s great if a mentor is knowledgeable about your field. However, if they have a good network, this will advance you quicker than someone who does not network well. Your potential mentor can hook you up with the right people at the start rather than getting you into situations that won’t work for you.
You can choose whether to find a mentor to pay or someone willing to help you for free. Both situations have advantages. Whether you find a free mentor or one you will pay, make sure you spell out the agreement ahead of time. Ask what they expect of you and mutually determine who is responsible for what. A good mentoring arrangement measures the success or failure. Otherwise, you have no way to know if it is working out.
How to Be a Good Mentor
Mentoring is a skill like any other. It’s not something you decide to do one day out of the blue. It requires discipline for both you as the mentor, as well as the people you are mentoring.
I started my mentor program at the end of 2007. It was after I had been online for a year and a half and had reached six figure a year in earnings on a regular basis. I then felt qualified to work with newer entrepreneurs to help them to do the same. I also began working with local businesses in the capacity of a marketing strategist. The combination of working online and with business owners gave me an education and the insight into marketing that few others could match.
The first requirement to be a good mentor is to ensure your mentees will do what you ask. If they don’t take the arrangement seriously, you are going to waste your time. Therefore, don’t agree to mentor people just because they ask. Try to get more information about their work ethics, etc. Also, try to ascertain if they are motivated and proactive. These are your ideal candidates to help. In the beginning I worked with anyone; now I very particular in who I choose to work with as a mentor. This has been extremely important to my success, as well as to the success of those who are connected with me in this relationship.
You want to set up rules right from the start. Determine what your responsibilities will be as well as what you expect from the people you mentor. It’s even better if you get this in writing. Recording the responsibilities ensures there are no misunderstandings later.
Define boundaries as much as possible. It’s okay to tell your mentees to contact you after work hours once in a while, especially when they’re working on a specific project. However, don’t let them call you for every minute detail. Let them know ahead of time for what reasons they can contact you.
Be firm in your expectations. If someone is not living up to what you expect of them, you may need to terminate the arrangement. It’s up to you if you want to give them a second chance. Your time is valuable, however. Don’t let them take advantage of you. If they aren’t willing to do what you ask, you need to move on to experience the power of mentorship with the right person for you and your needs..
If you are mentoring for pay, don’t sell yourself short. Mentors are expensive for a reason. Make sure you give great value for the money but expect to be compensated well for your efforts. In many ways, your fee is a good litmus test. Those who aren’t willing to fork up the money for your services are not going to be good candidates for mentoring them. You may believe it takes more effort to get high-paying clients, but you would be surprised how this isn’t true. If you are good and can back it up, you will easily find people willing to pay your fee.
You must develop a network of special people as a mentor. Good mentors have connections who they can call upon frequently. This ability will only work if you keep in contact with your network. Make time in your schedule to nurture your networking relationships so that you can use them to benefit yourself and the people you mentor. Reach out to me if you would like to learn more about the power of mentorship through one of my ongoing programs.
Connie Ragen Green is a bestselling author, marketing mentor, and online marketing strategist, working with individuals, non-profits, and corporations on six continents to help them increase their credibility, expand their visibility, and explode their profitability through the power of mentorship. If you’re interested in getting started with the journey to online entrepreneurship and taking your life to the next level, find out more by downloading your Online Entrepreneur Blueprint and get started today.