Wouldn’t it be great if you had a person who could help you to hone your sales skills, introduce you to other individuals who could help you generate more business, and knew the ins, outs, and intricacies of sales?
A mentor is that one person who can guide you, help you, take you under his or her wing, and nurture your career quest. What separates a mentor from the average network contact is a long-term commitment and a deep-seated investment in your future.
It’s important to understand the difference between a network contact and a mentor. A network contact might be associated with quick introductions, exchanges of business cards, and phone calls. A relationship with a mentor likely involves breakfast, lunch or after hours time spent away from your office. A mentor potentially has the clout and connections to direct you to places you couldn’t possibly guide yourself in your startup role in sales.
Mentoring has always been, in part, about knowledge transfer. Seasoned professionals passing down company knowledge to newer employees who want to learn and grow. But it is not a one-sided relationship. In fact, being a mentor can help keep a senior executive in touch with what other people in the company are thinking. Mentees (one who is being mentored) can provide insights that help mentors be better professionals and mentors. Additionally, mentees can offer a view into what’s happening on the ground.
10 Tips to Help You Find and Cultivate Your Mentor
- What are you looking for in a mentor? Do you want to identify someone who will share their personal and professional experience with you or are you looking for someone to simply be a sounding board?
- Ask for recommendations from anyone you can. That means friends and family and through your social network communities.
- Identify people who have achieved what you’re looking to achieve.
- Consider hooking up with a mentor who is a writer or blogger and has something to say to a broader-based audience.
- There are mentors everywhere. Along with looking for someone within your own company, don’t forget that your mentor may be a member of your networking group, your church or a neighbor who lives down the street. A mentor who is not associated with your company can help you look at your career in a broader perspective.
- When you read articles that are associated with your industry, look to see if the author would be someone who could become your mentor. Most authors that I know are very receptive to mentoring.
- Arrange a set time to meet with your mentor and don’t expect them to be available at your beckon call.
- If your set time is breakfast, lunch or happy hour, don’t let your mentor pick up the tab unless he wrestles you for it.
- Identify a couple of different mentors, invite them to participate in a conference call to discuss your goals, and to see which is the mentor that you’d like to be associated with. You should consider having a local mentor as well as an online mentor who can be located anywhere in the world.
- Always follow up with your mentor in a timely fashion whether or not he requires you to do so. Create an email file of anything that you have sent or received for your future reference.
Mentors are teachers, coaches, devil’s advocates, and role models who listen, offer nonjudgmental feedback, challenge assumptions, and help sort out alternatives. They can and should urge you to take on “stretch” roles to become a mentor yourself, since with more of us mentoring, we can make an even greater difference.
If you are looking for a mentor then send your contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org along with a note to let me know about your current situation and what your goals are for the next five years. I’d be happy to help if I can.
Tom Costello is the CEO and Managing Director of iGroupAdvisors, a performance improvement consulting firm that specializes in the hospitality and travel verticals. Connect with him on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+, or contact him by email. His new book, “Prepare for Liftoff – How to Launch a Career in Sales” is now available.