Business Mentors - How And Where To Find Them
Whether we realize it or not, we have all been mentored our whole lives. When we were growing up, our parents mentored us, by providing advice and guidance along the way. Our school teachers also mentored us, by teaching us the things we needed to know. Our college professors and advisers mentored us, by helping us find a direction for our lives, and giving us the necessary tools and roadmap to get there. Our employers even mentored us, by teaching us more and more about our chosen professions. Then, we start our own businesses, and forget that all of our other successes were mentored.
All business owners need business mentors. In the past, mentors were automatically provided, in the forms of parents, teachers, school advisor's, and employers. Now, you must set out to find a business mentor on your own. Unfortunately, most business owners do not know how or where to find business mentors.
The first step to finding business mentors is to expand your social network. Begin by making a list of successful people in your community that you admire. Make it a point to meet these people, and start developing personal relationships with them. Over time, you will be able to ask for their advice in specific areas that they excel in. Get involved in your community. Join clubs and associations that are specific to your business,or your other interests. Start meeting new people, and look for potential mentors.
Some places you might network to find business mentors are seminars, conferences, chamber of commerce meetings, Rotary club meetings, and Toastmasters clubs. You can also find online business mentoring through SCORE at www.score.org . There are several mentoring services in existence that will help connect you with a business mentor. Check with your local Chamber of Commerce to see if any such services exist in your area. You can also find mentoring services on the Internet.
Don't make the mistake of thinking that you can only have one business mentor. You can have one or twenty mentors, each specializing in specific areas. If you think in terms of 'limits' when it comes to mentors, you will be cheating yourself out of valuable knowledge and help.
Building a relationship with a business mentor can take quite a bit of time. These are personal relationships built on a mutual interest, respect, and trust. Such relationships do not grow overnight. You must be willing to put forth the effort, and make the time to find and develop these relationships. Get to know the mentor as a person, not just an adviser. Make it a point to meet with your mentor even when you do not need his or her advice to help build the personal relationship.
Let your mentor know that you really value his or her opinion. They will be giving you helpful advice that would cost you hundreds or thousands of dollars to obtain elsewhere - yet, mentors are not paid. Let them know that you value and appreciate them.
Do not expect mentors to solve all of your problems. That is not their purpose. They will not run your business for you. They simply give you advice, which you will either take, or ignore. If you are calling your mentor over every little detail and problem, they will begin avoiding you. Try to come up with a solution, or possible solutions to your problem. Present the problem to the mentor, then tell him what solutions you have come up with, and ask his advice on those solutions. Show the mentor that you are learning from him or her as time goes by. This will give the mentor great personal satisfaction.
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