by Elaine Slatter | Featured Contributor
Find A Business Mentor To Accelerate Your Personal Growth
It doesn’t matter if you are working in a corporation or are an entrepreneur, a business mentor can help you get to the next level. One of the keys is how to find a business mentor that is the right fit. During your business life, you can have a variety of business mentors depending on the skill set you are looking to develop. If you have pressing business problems, try to find a business mentor to help you solve your most urgent issues first. Because forward momentum cannot be achieved unless your solve problem #1. Later on, you may need to find a mentor for other areas of your business development.
Don’t be intimidated if the person you want as your mentor is a very busy executive. You can always ask them, “do you have 30 minutes to answer my top three questions”? Most people will respond by giving your 30 minutes of their time. The idea is to be prepared and not waste their time.
I remember when I first was progressing up the corporate ladder I had a problem working with the CEO. He came up with marketing ideas that, to say the least, were ‘crazy’. He would ask me what I thought of his ideas and as the Marketing Manager, I would tell him the truth. I was then mentored by the CFO on how to handle the CEO. The advice was “don’t keep saying no, that won’t work”, rather say, “that’s a great suggestion, John, let me think about it and work a program around your idea”. The program I then sold back to the CEO had one germ of his idea which I was quick to highlight and 99% of a different, workable idea. Hence the CEO never had a problem accepting and approving these plans.
It is all about positioning, saying everything in a positive manner, praising the original thought and moving the idea to a new level. That’s the politics of business that may seem like a sell-out, but isn’t it better to sell your idea rather than have it rejected because your audience just doesn’t buy in? My greatest lesson learned from my mentor is “know the audience you are pitching to”.
The first key is to find a mentor who is willing to help you with the skills development you need to work on. This could be leadership, negotiations, selling techniques, technical aptitude, handling office politics. Once you have found a person willing to mentor you, remember there is an obligation on your side too as a mentee. A mentor is only your guide, as a mentee, your job is to take ownership of your side of the relationship. This means, communicate on a timely basis, follow up with your homework, be professional at all times, put in the effort and lastly be accountable for everything you promise you will do. In time you will build a strong relationship with your business mentor that will be invaluable for your growth.
Here are six reasons businesswomen need to find a business mentor.
1. A mentor has a ton of experience
Tap into the expertise your mentor has. Ask how they have handled a situation and then use this experience when you next encounter a similar problem.
2. A mentor has a great network
People do business with people. If your mentor has a good professional network they will open their network up to you. Your mentor’s network is invaluable because it will likely have a cross-section of professionals that have the same values as your mentor.
Also, if you are in a corporate environment, your mentor can open doors within their own level of management, and put in a good word for you. This can help get your work known at a level higher than the one you are operating in. This is particularly helpful if your company has offices in many different locations and your mentor has the inside track with the office you need to work with.
3. A mentor’s experience can cut through the noise
Sometimes you just need to use your mentor as a sounding board to reach the core of a problem. If you have multiple layers of ‘noise’ and are having a problem sorting out where to start, your mentor can help. They are not mired in the emotions of the problem. They can usually cut through all the noise and distraction, isolate the true problem and help you with a solution.
4. A mentor can help you with skills development
We are all experts in something. Where your mentor can help you is developing your weaker skills. This could be how to handle difficult staff members, how to hire great people for your team, how to sell yourself or your products, or handling finances.
5. A mentor has no personal agenda
Your mentor is not your competition or your work mate. Their sole purpose is to help you develop skills for your own success.
6. A mentor is a sounding board
Think of your mentor as your guide. They are not there to solve your problems or help boost your career, they play a supporting role in your success. The mentee needs to take responsibility for their decisions and actions. But role-playing with your mentor means you have a great person in your corner to help guide you into making your own decisions and taking action. Most likely they have already traveled the road you are on and have had similar experiences.
Your choice of a mentor is so important. Do you trust this person? Will they keep all the information you give them confidential? Does your prospective mentor have the experience you are looking for?
I have always used mentors to help me both in my corporate career and as an entrepreneur. I learn from a variety of experts who are where I want to be.
In return, I have mentored many startup entrepreneurs for a variety of business programs and proudly have a Fabulous Fempreneurship platform for women entrepreneurs that also provides mentoring support. Paying it forward is so essential in promoting women in business. Check out our mentors here.
Have you had a mentor in your business life? What has this experience been like?