Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The value of mentorship

The Value of a Mentor: Find Yourself a Mentor: "Looking for a boost in your job search or working life? Find yourself a mentor -- or let one find you. A mentor is that one person who can guide you, help you, take you under his or her wing, and nurture your career quest. A Yoda to your Luke Skywalker. A Glinda the Good Witch to your Dorothy Gale. What separates a mentor from the average network contact is long-term commitment and a deep-seated investment in your future."

Why Every Entrepreneur Should Have A Mentor: "Your friends and family, the Web, periodicals, and even casual acquaintances can provide you with a steady daily flow of information regarding news, industry developments, and opportunities. Industry analysts, consultants, employees, and good networking contacts can share their expert knowledge with you regarding particular situations and needs you may encounter. But only a mentor can truly share wisdom with you on an ongoing basis.

A mentor is someone with more entrepreneurial business experience than you who serves as a trusted confidante over an extended period of time, usually free of charge. Why do they do this? First and foremost as a way of giving back to their community and to society at large. They may do it to develop their skills as a teacher, manager, strategist, or consultant. And a true mentoring relationship also works in both directions—they learn about new ideas from you just as you learn timeless wisdom from them."

Will You Be My Mentor? A crash course by Leslie Rapp via entrepreneur.com: "If only it were that easy. Here's how to nab the right one and get the most out of the relationship:

1. First, think about you. Exactly why do you need a mentor? What do you hope to learn? Then figure out the kind of person who can best inspire you. For example, if you're starting from scratch, look for a mentor who did, too.

2. Do you actually need a mentor? If you have a specific problem to solve, you may want a consultant. If you're stuck in a rut, a professional coach could be a better choice.

3. Start with small talk. You meet potential mentors every day, not that they go around introducing themselves that way. Ask them about their work and their life, and see where it leads. Rapp particularly likes to ask how they came to do the work they do: "I never get a straight-line answer, and the story tells me a lot."

4. Then spell out what you want. Asking "Will you be my mentor?" is a pretty sure way to make potential mentors flee. Instead, say you want to learn more about what they do and that they would be a great resource. Suggest meeting every quarter, or having coffee once a month. Be specific.

5. The answer may be no, and that's OK. Keep searching, and know that you're a good judge of character: Great mentors don't say yes to things they can't commit to."