I never had a business mentor until I started blogging. I could definitely have done with one though because I’ve been running my own business for 13 years and still have heaps to learn. That’s what makes it challenging and fun getting a Business Mentor.
But I badly wanted a mentor when I started blogging and expanding my business. Don’t we all crave someone to help us through ups and downs, advise us when we hit a rocky patch, guide us when we’re confused and rejoice when we succeed?
Yes, I wanted a business mentor. I just didn’t know how to get one and to begin with my clumsy attempts to find a mentor failed spectacularly.
The dictionary definition of a mentor is “a wise and trusted counselor or teacher” and since I set up this blog over the last 18 months, I’ve been lucky enough to pick up not one but two phenomenal business mentors accidentally. It’s no coincidence that when I stopped trying to find a mentor and concentrated on doing the best job I could by myself that I found not one but two amazing mentors.
I don’t want to tell you who my mentors are because then everyone who reads this will beat a path to their door and they’ll sack me, but they’re both inspiring thought leaders who are highly successful in their fields. One of them is a business adviser who charges $1,500 an hour for her advice (seriously! And I get her insights free of charge) and the other is a globally acclaimed author and businessman. A small business owner could never hope for better mentors and I never dreamed of having such illustrious business mentors myself.
It’s ironic because I did ask one person to be my business mentor but she didn’t want a bar of it. She’s a little-known author who writes a column in the local paper. Now I’m sure she’s lovely but definitely not as dynamic as the mentors I ended up with, and certainly not as famous. But it turns out she did me a favour when she turned me down because the mentors I ended up with exceed all my expectations for the role. Plus as always, you can learn from my mistakes.
So how did I get these amazing mentors? Jen Gresham has a great post about how to find the right mentor you should read but my tips are about how to persuade someone to be your mentor once you’ve identified what kind of person would best be able to help you.
Getting a Business Mentor: 9 Ways
1. Never, never, never ask anyone to be your mentor
you won’t see them for dust if you do. That’s what happened to me with the local lady I emailed asking to be my mentor. Poor woman. It must have scared the living daylights out of her.
2. Show them you like them
Show them you like them and their work by tweeting and commenting on their stuff. Think about what you can offer them. It might seem unlikely that you have anything to offer but you truly need to be a fan to get their attention and warrant their time investment.
Start by buying their books or other products, commenting on their blogs, and joining their affiliate programs. Really read their stuff and email them telling them your experiences and how you appreciate their inspiration and advice. Truly be a fan. Showing someone you like them is very different from telling them you like them.
3. Ignore age.
Your mentor doesn’t necessarily have to be older than you, they just have to have skills, experience, drive, or talent that you admire.
4. Respect people’s time.
Keep your communications brief and to the point. Ask specific, intelligent, and interesting questions that aren’t already answered in their books or blog posts. Only ask one or two questions at a time and build up a relationship slowly and naturally.
Asking someone if they’ll be your mentor is a time-waster as I discovered. Much better to ask them an interesting question that will help you straight away and show them you’re dynamic and professional. Be super brief in emails. Never email them more than five sentences.
5. Prove you’re worth mentoring long term
Prove you’re worth mentoring long term and are not just someone who’s only in it for the short term or for themselves. Be the best you can be every single day and be patient. In time a good mentor will find you.
Get all your profiles on Twitter, FaceBook, and LinkedIn perfect, you don’t know which one your mentor will check in at. Connect with them regularly and don’t go away but practice smart online networking. Be friendly and helpful, not a nuisance. Just leaving a comment on their blog after a period of being out of touch will let them know you still care.
6. Write about them on your blog
Write about them on your blog and tell the world how marvelous your mentor is. But never tell anyone they’re your mentor, especially the mentor. They’ll run a mile remember.
7. Follow their advice.
I know this sounds basic but there’s nothing more annoying than investing time in someone who actively seeks your advice, spending time working out the best solution for them and advising them only for it to be ignored. Please try out what your mentor recommends and make sure they know you’re actioning their recommendations. Give them feedback on the results.
8. Thank them for their help.
No need to go over the top and be professional. Just mention how much you appreciate their advice and support.
Think about what you did to get the mentor in the first place and keep doing it. It should be a beautiful, symbiotic relationship. One which brings you both equal benefits and rewards. Enjoy your business mentor and make sure they enjoy you.
Have you got a business mentor? How did you find them? Or would you like a business mentor? Why? How would it help you improve your business?