Someone recently asked the question: How do you find a business mentor? Here is my response.
Determine what your needs are.
First, you must determine where you think you need the most insights / advice. If you are strong in operations, then a business mentor who has a strong sales or marketing acumen may be a better fit. However, an ops person who built a successful business by hiring great sales and marketing staff may provide what you need. Or maybe you need someone with more in-depth industry knowledge. The point is, until you figure out what strengths you’d like to develop, you won’t know who to approach.
Seek out a mentor.
After you determine the background or skill set of your potential mentor, look through LinkedIn, your local business papers, trade publications and ask around at association meetings and among your existing network. You want to set up information meetings with several people you think would be a good mentor. Offer to treat these individuals to lunch or coffee in exchange for some insights into how they got to be where they are. i.e., “I’d love to take you to lunch. I’m growing my business and would really appreciate any insights you can provide as a successful business owner.” Most people will be flattered and will take you up on the offer.
Determine the fit.
You’ll be able to tell who is a good fit with you after you meet. One or more will feel really natural and others will feel forced. Follow up and thank everyone you meet with (preferably with a card). Ask the one you truly resonate with if he or she will be a mentor and say why you are impressed with him or her. If he or she agrees, ask how often to meet and how – in person, by phone, or ad hoc. Some people are more formal and want a 7am meeting every other Friday morning while others will say to just call when you have questions.
How did you find your mentor? Any additional you’d like to add? Please do so below!