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4 Things to Look for in an Industry Mentor

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Most people know the benefits of having a mentor, but finding the right one is a whole different story.

A mentor is someone you should be able to trust with your questions and can provide you with the guidance needed — the wrong person would be ineffective, and possibly even dangerous to your business.

That’s why it’s essential to vet possible mentors, just as you would a new employee.

If you plan to let someone into the inside of your business, you must know that they have the right intentions and that they have the expertise and knowledge that you seek.

I met my mentor through a business peer. Almost instantly, I knew he was the right fit for me. I could see that he was smarter and more experienced than me, so I asked if I could call him if I had any questions. To this day, we still speak regularly when I’m feeling uncertain about anything.

Whether it’s email marketing to company vehicles to lease renewals, he’s always prepared with an answer simply because he’s already been there before.

Here are a few considerations for qualifying a mentor before diving into a relationship:

They’re smarter than you.

This is an easy one — a person can’t be your mentor unless they are more knowledgeable than you. Otherwise, you won’t get anything from the relationship.

Look for someone who has been through the ropes and has a next-level understanding of the business world. It’s nice if they have industry-specific knowledge, but it’s not really necessary if you’re looking for general business advice.

They’re a good listener.

You should feel comfortable spilling insecurities to your mentor without fearing that they’ll laugh or judge you.

They should be able to genuinely listen to you without interrupting with unsolicited advice; this relationship is about bettering your business, so it shouldn’t shift to an unwarranted list of their accolades and opinions.

You should not feel scared to ask ‘dumb’ questions — that’s a red flag that you should find somebody else.

They’re comfortable sharing their failures.

Failures often turn into lessons. A good mentor cannot be too prideful to share their mistakes with you. Instead, they should be excited to share their failures in an effort to help you avoid them.

Even if they’re the very best at what they do, I guarantee they still made mistakes along the way. If all they want to do is relay their successes to you, it may be time to look elsewhere.

They’re ready and available to help.

A mentorship should be a committed relationship between two individuals. As a mentee, it’s easy to make the time to nurture the relationship — after all, you get a lot of value out of their advice.

A good mentor, on the other hand, must be dedicated enough that they willingly make themselves available on a regular basis simply because they want to be helpful.

Avoid people who stress about finding time in their schedule or make you feel like a burden; they likely won’t be a good long-term fit. With that said, it’s just as much your responsibility to stay in touch with them. They aren’t a teacher, so you have to commit and mutually engage with one another.

As you search for the right mentor, prepare to be uncomfortable and make yourself vulnerable. Ask those hard questions and don’t commit to anyone until you know they have your best interest at heart.

Having a mentor can be an invaluable experience that can help you push boundaries, break self-imposed limits, and become a better business owner.

Want to learn all the secrets to choosing the best mentorship or mastermind groups to move your business forward? Get our Ultimate Guide to Mentorships and Mastermind Groups here.

Plus, 5 more posts you might like:

How to Choose Between a Mentor or a Mastermind Group

5 Signs You Might Need a One on One Mentor

4 Ways to Determine if a Mastermind Group is Right for You and Your Business

Business “Lifelines”: Finding the Help You Need

I tried a business coach, a monthly mastermind, and a mentor: here’s what I learned

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