How to Start a Lasting Mentor Relationship
I’m often asked, “Does mentoring really matter? Does it work?”
For me… it was the SINGLE biggest catalyst for my success in business. I spent five long tumultuous years of struggle as an entrepreneur before I became successful. When I met my mentor, Wayne Nugent, everything seemed to shift in my life…
I went from being a waiter at 24 years old to earning $2,000 a week within 90 days. From there, I went to $10,000 a week, and then went on to becoming a self-made millionaire at the age of 29. If it hadn’t been for meeting Wayne, I don’t know that I would have become a millionaire at such a young age.
It doesn’t matter where you are in your career, mentors are ALWAYS a good idea. But here’s the catch. It has to be the right mentor. Today’s blog is about the mentor relationship to assist you in becoming a good mentor or selecting a good mentor… or both!
So what’s a mentor?
A mentor is a more experienced professional in your field who offers you career guidance, advice and assistance from a real world point-of-view.
What (or who) should I look for?
Now, this is the real question. You should spend some serious time and thought on this one. A lot of people make the mistake of just picking someone who’s convenient or accessible.
When you take the time to develop a strong mentor relationship, you get access to loads of knowledge and experience, but you also could end up with a lifelong friend and potential future business partner. I don’t know about you, but that sounds pretty awesome. Over the years, I’ve developed a kind of checklist for identifying a good mentor…. and, honestly, most of it has to do with what’s important to you. This is YOUR success we’re talking about here.
Great Traits to Look for in Your Mentor
1. Not only should a mentor be wise, he must be willing to share that knowledge and experiences to help YOU succeed.
2. In order to accomplish # 1, a great mentor needs to listen and care about your goals so he can best support you.
3. They must be someone you respect professionally (and personally) and has a career you’d like to emulate. Don’t be too literal here. I’m not saying you have to find someone in your exact profession of iPhone salesperson at Verizon but an experienced Sales Manager in the tech industry could result in a great mentorship relationship.
4. Make sure they model the professional characteristics you value. If they got to the top by stepping on everyone to get there, I’m going to go out on a limb and say “BAD IDEA”!! I know I’m making a joke here, but this is a big deal. You enjoy spending time with people with similar values so it only makes sense that you’d pick a mentor who exemplifies those values.
5. You need to know the mentor is willing and eager to be a mentor and will make the time available to you for a solid relationship with some meat! There’s nothing worse than agreeing to create a mentor relationship with someone only to find you had different views of what that would entail.
6. That leads me to my 6th trait! You and your mentor must be honest and open with one another. Lay out some rules and guidelines on how you both want to see this happen. If one of you thinks you should meet up every day for an hour and the other feels a one hour phone call a week is sufficient…. not a fit, right? Neither is wrong, but that doesn’t stand to make for a good relationship and definitely not a lasting one.
7. Mentors have to be trustworthy! You’re going to be sharing your goal, dreams, frustrations, challenges, etc… The last thing you want is to be wondering if you can trust the person to whom you just bared your soul.
8. You should look for someone you like. I know that’s simple but it’s critical too. You should like your mentor on a personal level. You want to look forward to spending time with your mentor. The conversations should be fun, engaging and even inspiring.
Basically, you’re looking for someone like this guy… 😉
So now you know what you’re looking for. Now, it’s time to create a mentor relationship and get agreement on what that looks like. It doesn’t have to to be formal. It can be pretty informal. The key is that you agree.
How to Start a Mentor Relationship
To get started, I recommend that the mentee come up with the “ideal” relationship and share it with your mentor. You definitely want to make sure you leave it open for discussion. Find out how much time they are willing to invest and build a schedule based on that. You definitely want to do this at the beginning of the relationship and keep it as an open dialogue.
You’re going to want to be flexible and communicate more frequently in the beginning to get on the same page before any confusion ensues. And lastly, have fun! This is supposed to be a fun growth experience!
I hope I’ve peaked your interest in starting a mentorship experience. If I didn’t answer a specific question you had, please let me know in the comments section below!