Finding a Business Mentor
Where did I find a business mentor? I found my first mentor through a business group I belonged to. She was very interesting to talk to so I asked her out to dinner to chat and get some additional general business insights and personal career insights. (This was my treat, of course). At the end of the dinner I asked her to be my mentor and she accepted. I found my second mentor by approaching a speaker at a conference who subsequently connected me to her business partner. When I spoke to her business partner approximately two weeks later, we spoke for nearly 2 hours! She “adopted” me as her mentee before I even asked.
My most recent business mentor I found by reaching out to my alumni network. I was seeking information on multifamily properties. I met with him and he later connected me to a number of others. He then invited me to breakfast two weeks later. After that, we agreed to meet for breakfast (7 am) every 2nd or 3rd week. I never officially used the words “mentor” with him. Instead, I said I valued his business insights and acumen and would love to bounce ideas and suggestions off of him and hear him talk about what he’d done. He agreed.
Mentor / Advisor / Opportunity Arises
I’ll admit that I was not looking for a business mentor, per se, when I initially encountered these individuals. When I met the first person, I was just impressed by her knowledge so “mentor” came to mind. For the two others, I sought specific information but was then truly impressed by their overall knowledge and willingness to assist me. Therefore, with these two, “mentor” was an opportunity that arose out of investigating other business opportunities.
Mentor to Others
I have been a mentor to others. I currently mentor an entrepreneur overseas through an official mentorship program run by the Cherie Blair foundation. Of the two other business owners I mentor(ed), one found me through a business group I’m in and another through a referral from another who asked if I would mind speaking to her. So, essentially, others found me the same way I found my mentors!
Fit Is Critical
What is critically important with a mentor (or business advisor) is the fit. So the way that I found people and the way others found me works very well. You can and should determine the fit before making a formal request to someone to be your mentor. If there is no fit, at least your garnered more business insights and feedback than you would have had had you not reached out. And you strengthened your network.
In addition, although someone may not be a fit for you, that person may be a fit for someone else. Notice the introductions that were made on my and other’s behalf that I mentioned earlier. You may not have found your mentor or advisor in that person but he or she may be a great fit for someone else you know.
If you have business mentors or advisors, how did you find them? Inquiring minds want to know!