People hear the advice “find a mentor” fairly often, but that doesn’t always help. In fact, there are a lot of potential mentors out there. And each brings with them certain skills and successes. So how do you know which person might be a good fit as a career mentor? And who might be a misfit?
To help you narrow down your choices for a mentor, we asked members of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) this question:
What traits should a young professional look for in a career mentor, and why?
Read on… we’re sure you’ll find these answers helpful!
1. Look for an Opposite
Find someone that is in a similar situation of where you want to be, but has a different perspective than you. You may butt heads at the beginning of the relationship, but eventually you’ll be able to look at a situation from multiple viewpoints and find the best solution, rather than going with your first instinct. You want someone that will challenge you to get out of your box.
2. Prioritize Honesty
When finding a career mentor, the most important quality is honesty. If you are being brave enough to ask for advice, they need to be brave enough to tell you the truth. A good mentor tells you how it is, rather than sugar coating it. As you’re just starting out, you need people around you who give it to you straight. No matter how hard it is to hear: It’s the only way you can push through to succeed.
3. Align Ethically
Look for someone with a proven track record, as well as someone who aligns with you ethically. Plenty of successful people out there just happened to get lucky. Find the person who does more than get lucky: Find the person who keeps working at it. If you can find that person, and they are someone who makes choices you can feel good about, they’re a career mentor you should consider.
4. Learn from Failure
This may sound counter-intuitive, but the truth is that failure is the best teacher. A good mentor is one who has failed in the past, but managed to learn from these mistakes and, of course, eventually succeed. They can help you recover from failure and take the most important lessons from each life experience, thus ensuring your success in the future.
5. Be Clear About Time Available and Goals
While finding a career mentor with a variety of experiences is important, ensuring that they have the time to perform this valuable service may be even more critical. In today’s hectic business climate, it is challenging for mentors to carve out time to guide a young professional. At the same time, mentees need to have clear business goals, so their time with a high-value mentor is well-spent.
6. Consider Multiple Mentors
Find mentors who have successfully achieved the specific goals you are looking to achieve in your business and are willing to guide you. For example, if you are looking to get your product into retail stores, look for mentors who have already gotten products in those specific stores. Looking to build your sales team? Look for acareer mentor who has a thriving sales team. You can have multiple mentors.
7. Give Back
I think there should be a good connection between you two. Being a young entrepreneur, I love to learn from my mentors, but I also want to help them with what I do know. I think that’s often a challenge for a young entrepreneur or professional, to take the student seat and listen to someone with more experience. But also, you gotta keep in mind that you can always do something to help them too.
8. Who You Will Be in Five Years
To find a career mentor who is who you want to be in five years or so, write down who you want to be and look for that person through books, LinkedIn and social media. For example, my goal is to grow my search marketing agency ten-fold, so my mentors are the CEOs of large digital marketing agencies who started from the bottom and built large agencies. I look for mentors whose stories I want to relive.
9. Someone Who Has Traveled Your Path
When searching for a career mentor, I look for someone that has been down the path I am about to embark on. Someone who can give me a heads up about certain pitfalls I may encounter, and ‒ based on their experience ‒ shorten my learning curves. After all, I think of them as a guide: They know the way and can point me in the direction of successfully arriving at my intended destination.
These answers are provided by Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. YEC has also launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.