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Do you have ideas for your business, but you’re not sure how to implement them? Or have you reached a plateau and you’re wondering how to reach the next level of success?  Does your business depend on leads made through networking and referrals?

If you answered yes to any of the above, then you should consider leveraging the power of a mentor if you haven’t already

As entrepreneurs and business owners grow their business, if they’re successful, they come to realize that each level of scale has its own unique challenges. Even though someone may master one level, the next one will deliver unforeseen issues and friction they haven’t dealt with yet. 

But, the right mentor has “been there” and “done that.” They can speak knowledgeably about what worked and didn’t work for them and what can work for you. Their insight can help you direct a laser-focus on the most beneficial actions to grow your business. 

That being said, you can’t expect to just find a mentor and instantly find success. You need to enact a few essentials to ensure the relationship is beneficial, and only then will you experience the kind of sustainable growth fueled by powerful mentor relationships. 

#1: Know your goals

If you don’t know what you want to get out of a mentor relationship, then you won’t know how to find the right mentor, much less know if they’re worth your time! Everyone has a different skillset with their own strengths and weaknesses, yourself included. You might be looking for someone who can help you bolster your already-existing strengths, but don’t narrow your focus too much. Perhaps see where you could stand to improve and instead identify a mentor who could augment your weaknesses. This will help fill in the gaps in your experience and truly be a valuable addition to your skillset.  

#2: You get what you put in 

Mentorship is no different than any other relationship, personal or professional — your effort matters. If you don’t communicate your needs to your significant other, you’ll eventually lose the relationship (or go crazy!). If relationships with clients are key to your business and you don’t speak with a client for months a time, you’ll probably lose them too. 

Likewise, if you fall out of contact with a mentor for too long, you may find yourself without a mentor. This can happen so easily — you go on vacation, move, get sick, have to cancel 1 meeting,  then 2, then 3….you get the idea. You have more to gain in this relationship than they do; therefore, the burden of responsibility lies with you. You have to put effort into the relationship to keep it going.  Likewise, you need to put effort into each meeting. Be prepared with specific questions, areas for feedback, or requests with support when you do meet with your mentor.

#3: Don’t be scared to move on

It’s okay to admit when a relationship isn’t working. Just like personal and other professional relationships, you can choose to end the mentorship if it’s no longer providing value or meeting your needs. It’s also totally okay to end it if you’re not a fit on a personal level — maybe your sense of humor doesn’t line up, or they just make you feel uncomfortable. In any case, look for a mentor whose style works best with you. You’ll look forward to the meetings more and will probably get more out of the relationship because of such. 

#4: Create a framework

Just like you would never build a house without a blueprint, you shouldn’t commit to a mentor relationship without a clear action plan and accountability process. Once you’ve met with someone once or twice and have decided to move forward, try mapping out a basic framework with them. Using a notepad or shared google doc, both you and your mentor should outline what you would like to achieve over the next six months. Then, map out an accountability plan on the specific steps it will take for you to achieve that goal. This will be helpful for both you and your mentor as you’ll both have clarity about what you’re working towards. Then, whenever you and your mentor meet, it will be your responsibility to check that you are following the framework and are on track to meet your goals. If you’re off-track, both of you can address how to fix it.  

#5:  You don’t need just one!

A network of mentors? Yes, we’re all for it. If you have a few formal mentors in your arsenal, you will get a wide-reaching net of expertise to help you bypass any learning curve in your career. And it’s achievable without much effort through networking groups like ours.  But don’t forget — almost anyone can be an informal mentor. If you go through life with the belief that everyone has something to teach you, then you’ll always be learning, growing, and adding to your repertoire. An open mind destroys mental roadblocks and you never know when a comment through a peer in your industry or someone you meet at your local coffee shop will inspire a breakthrough.

It’s also helpful to remember that the most successful mentorships are the ones where the relationship is mutually beneficial. Don’t forget that you also provide value to your mentor; perhaps you help keep them sharp with insightful questions, or you plug them into another perspective or are maybe just plain good company. Either way, look for ways to give back, either to your mentor or by sharing all that you’ve learned with others. Sharing knowledge is often the best way to achieve a mutually beneficial community where everyone’s goals are supported. Feel free to contact us to learn more about our networking opportunities and mentorship programs that can connect you with your next mentor.