You understand the importance of a mentor… you know you need one to take your career to the next level. But where do you find a mentor? And how do you build a relationship where they will want to help?
To answer that question, we asked members of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) this question:
What’s can do now right now to encourage older, more experienced professionals and entrepreneurs to want to mentor you?
Here are their most helpful answers!
Don’t Just Be a Taker
“Find a way to give back to the more experienced entrepreneur. Also, when you ask for 30 minutes, only take 30 minutes. They will appreciate your attention to their time.”
Remind Them of Themselves
“Every week I receive emails from individuals wanting to have coffee or ask questions. The ones I tend to meet with often remind me of a younger self. Whether they went to my college, hail from my hometown or have the same passions I had in college, I (like most people) gravitate toward like-minded people. Showing an entrepreneur that you have a common thread can go a long way in securing a mentor.”
Add Value to Their Business
“I’ve found it’s easier to start a new relationship by giving rather than taking. Do research on your perspective mentor, and find out what they’re working on. Study their process, and come up with an innovative way to improve it. Then, share your findings with them. This will demonstrate that you are worth their time, and it won’t become just a one-way relationship.”
Don’t Come Empty-Handed
“Show that you are capable of executing to some degree on your own, whether that is by gaining some traction, some buzz or just building a great product. The worst is when someone comes to me with nothing and expects me to do too much of the work for them. I only want to surround myself with A-Players, and that goes for mentors and mentees alike.”
Find Similarities in Your Situation
“People will want to help you if they understand and trust you and see a little bit of themselves in you. Older, experienced entrepreneurs almost feel a need to reinvest back into the karma that has made them successful. As people grow older and acquire everything they think they need, they figure out that life is about giving. Ask Bill Gates about that one. ”
“No one wants to help someone who isn’t professional. Keep your emails (especially those with requests) brief. I don’t want to see more than a paragraph when you’re asking for information. Respond when my assistant emails you to confirm an appointment. Be prompt and friendly, and it doesn’t hurt to take notes. Afterward, send a thank-you email or, even better, a handwritten note!”
Let Them See Your Potential
“As with any investment, older/more experienced entrepreneurs are looking for an opportunity with promise. If you want someone to mentor you, show them why they should, and demonstrate to them that their efforts will not be wasted.”
“Make yourself available, and be humble and teachable. The men and woman who have gone before us have a wealth of knowledge and experience, so we need to sit at their feet, listen and learn. However, it’s not enough just to listen to them; it’s about acting on the advice. When mentors see their advice impacting your business, it encourages them to keep teaching and the student to keep learning!”
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Startup Collective!
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.