Join Work It Girl Masterclass. Enrollments are open now for 2018. Click here
 
     Categories
  Jobseeker
  Stories
EAGER TO FIND A MENTOR?
By Elise Fritsch
 
Share
 

 

Think a mentor will change your life in business? Think again. A mentor won’t hold your hand through your business journey. But they will help you along the way. They are definitely worth the time investing in developing and nurturing the relationship for your own sake. So how do you find one? Read on…

I was desperate to seek out a mentor in my 20’s. I had a keen interest in business and I wanted to be surrounded by someone successful, wealthy and experienced.

My first mentor was a sweet gentleman. He was a client from my real estate days. He kept telling me he saw potential in me. The potential for business growth. He one day suggested he become my mentor. He owned a successful consulting company and said he would love to coach me pro-bono. Sure, why not I said! At his going rate of $1200 an hour, I would be crazy not to. He had such an interesting past. He was a former alcoholic…. And homeless. He had a major shift when he had a near-death experience, cleaned up his act, became sober and now runs a multi-million dollar consulting agency in the heart of Sydney. I was surely going to learn something from this man. If not anything but resilience.

He was very encouraging towards me applying to do my MBA. Without him I would never in a million years have completed my degree let alone apply!

It only took that one person to really believe I had what it took. One person other than myself that is. Just as Elle Woods said "You should always always continuously be believing in yourself."

As your business or career plans shift, sometimes you will notice your business mentor and yourself will grow apart. As we did. But every day I value his advice and encouragement towards my study.

It wasn’t all roses though. There were times when he would be so blunt it hurt my feelings. Sometimes, I didn’t know how to take his words of wisdom.

My next mentor was a successful older gentleman, from a different industry than mine. As lessons have it, it was ultimately not the right synergy. He was from a different generation, he didn’t grasp my business model and in fact, low and behold I am pretty sure to this day he wanted a little more than to “mentor” me. (Ew) Bye Felicia I cried.

This was when I officially had enough. I decided to take some time out and write down what I really wanted in a mentor and to be super specific, I really wanted my very first boss from 13 years ago when I worked in recruitment. She was a gun. She knew my industry and she was quite frankly. A woman! So I did not have to worry about being hit on. Preach sister!

The next part was finding her as I could not find her on social media or the internet – I just could not for the life of me remember her last name. Granted it had been 13 years.

Low and behold, a month later, I bumped into her at a café. Double my age and looking fitter than me. She was and is still. A gun. I gave her a big hug like I had just worked with her yesterday and invited her casually for coffee. That is when I officially asked her to be my mentor.

A few months on and she has taught me more than I would have learnt in a full-time job capacity. She is the epitome of where I want to be at her age, she is on numerous boards, is from my industry and she has so much to offer our conversations. It’s a perfect match.

Remember though, you aren’t going to get it right every time – I guess it’s quite like dating! But these are some really useful tips that will help you in your mentorship going forward:

  1. Make sure your business objectives are aligned.

  2. It makes it so much easier if you are both in the same industry. The knowledge, power and connections they can then offer is imperative.

  3. Make sure ideally that your mentor is there to only be a mentor. You know. If you see any boundaries being crossed – run honey run!

  4. Keep it strictly professional… Mr.

  5. Understand you won’t always like what you hear, it is your call to take the good from the not so good advice! What worked a century ago may not apply to this year or your business model.

  6. Take notes! This is crucial. The advice you build up over time will really add value to your business.

  7. Make sure you actively implement the advice they give you and action it in your day to day duties. Then on your next catch up, tell them how it went and come with questions, questions, questions! Ask them to make you accountable!

  8. Role play with your mentor – they will iron out any hesitations you have when dealing with clients.

  9. Don’t be embarrassed to tell them if you have failed at a task. They are there to lift you up when you are down and I can guarantee they have had the same failure, if not similar.
  10. Finally, show gratitude! They are giving up their time to see you succeed. Super nice. So return the favour. ALWAYS purchase the coffee when you meet up, buy them flowers or a small gift once a year, send a Birthday or Christmas card, give them a shout out online. It will go a long way, trust me.

 

Finding a mentor can be a challenging task, but really just consider why it is going to benefit you and if you are at that stage in your career when you absolutely need one. Then go forward and put the word out!

The next bit is probably even harder. When you absolutely know you are done with your mentor. How do you FIRE them?

Stay tuned for our next article on “How to FIRE your mentor.”

Do you have any interesting examples of amazing – and not so amazing mentors? Comment below!