Seeking a mentor is a crucial step to success, especially if you’re a young person just starting out in your career journey. Mentors can help their mentees learn from their own mistakes, widen their networks and encourage them to pursue their dreams.
Entrepreneurs often make great mentors, as they can speak from experience on the trials and tribulations of entrepreneurial success. However, it’s not always easy to find and convince an entrepreneur to be your mentor.
Below, 10 members of Young Entrepreneur Council shared what young professionals should know about seeking mentorship from a business owner.
1. Offer Them Value
If you just ask them to be your mentor, they will most likely say no. Plus, mentorship is not about them sitting down with you and teaching you how to solve problems. It’s about their energy, principles, ways of thinking, attitudes and so on. Offer them value in return. For example, you could work for them part time for free. If this is someone worth being around, it will pay off a gazillion times. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS
2. Look For A Connection
Make sure that there is chemistry between you both. When I found my mentor 15 years ago, I met him at my university event. I felt connected with him, and the more and more we talked, we knew it was the right relationship. You want to make sure there is chemistry and that they have some expertise in the area you need mentoring. – Piyush Jain, Simpalm
3. Have A Conversation
Start by explaining why you admire their work and ask for advice on your own career. During the conversation, you can gauge their willingness to help you and broach the subject of mentoring. Be sure to explain that you’re willing to work with their schedule. Also, let them know what they’re committing to. A 30-minute call per week? Monthly calls? In-person, phone, Zoom? Set expectations upfront. – Jonathan Prichard, MattressInsider.com
4. Start With A Single Question
I don’t believe that there is a need to only have a single mentor. You should have a variety of mentors, each who are experts in a different area you want to gain expertise in. When you first approach them, have a single question ready—just one. Keep it short and sweet, respect their time and then follow up to tell them how you applied their advice and potentially continue the conversation. – Ashley Sharp, Dwell with Dignity
5. Stay True To Yourself
Don’t forget who you are. Getting in touch with the entrepreneur you want to work with can be difficult, but the hardest part is maintaining that relationship you want to form. You not only have to be up to date with what they have already said, but you also have to generate confidence and show your unique potential. Don’t act according to how you think your potential mentor would like—be honest. – Kevin Ryan Tao, NeuEve
6. Do Your Research
If you’re looking for an entrepreneur as a mentor, first make sure you’ve identified the right one for your needs. You might look up to them, but it’s important to figure out if they’ll truly be able to guide you based on what you want and what industry you’re in. There might be other options better suited for you, so doing your research on them beforehand is crucial. – Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms
7. Provide Clear Reasoning
When approaching a mentor, tell them why you have chosen them. The more clear and specific you can be, the more seriously they will take your offer and the more they will understand what you are hoping to get out of the relationship. Clear goals and intentions will ensure you both are on the same page and that the skills you are being shown will transfer over into your future endeavors. – Salvador Ordorica, The Spanish Group LLC
8. Consume Everything They Offer
Make sure you have consumed everything they already offer. If you approach a successful person and haven’t read their book, listened to their podcast, studied their business or read anything about them, your chances of being respected as a mentee are greatly reduced. Don’t approach someone unless you have questions they haven’t answered in public yet. – Matthew Podolsky, Florida Law Advisers, P.A.
9. Be Open
Leave your expectations at the door and be open. Many young people believe the lie that “if you work hard, you’ll succeed,” but what they may not think about is that all the spaces between those words are filled with victories, failures, tears, happy dances, self-doubt, etc. By coming into the rink with an open mind that’s prepared to embrace the unknown, they’ll have a better chance of success. – Emily Stallings, Casely, Inc.
10. Know Your ‘Why’
Before you can even find the right mentor, you need to have a clear idea of what your mission is. Having a sense of your company’s purpose helps to paint a picture of a mentor who will best guide you to success. It will also help you frame your outreach to potential mentors in concrete terms so you’re not blindly asking someone who might not be a good fit. – Shu Saito, All Filters