The Need for a Mentor

During the NAMM Show last month, one of the most requested topics for future seminars was “How Do I Fnd a Mentor?”  Indeed, this is a topic that many businesses and industries are requesting.

The January 28,2007 issue of Business Week Magazine has an article, “Mentoring Can Be Messy,” which states that more than 50% of the 500 largest businesses now offering mentoring programs.  This is up from merely 10% of large firms who offered this 5 years ago according to Mentium – a company who helps to establish these mentoring programs for business.

When there is a good fit between mentor and mentee (or protege) there are multiple benefits that can result.  But remember – this is a relationship.  And, like any relationship, it takes a certain amount of chemistry for it to click. To quote from the Business Week Article:

Ideally, both people know what they want out of the arrangement. “I haven't seen a real powerful relationship that didn't have specific goals,” says Kim Wise, the head of Mentor Resources. These might include learning how to manage a big project or several employees or a budget, or developing an expertise that makes a transfer more likely. And once any of that happens, it's usually time to move on, maybe to another mentor. The most successful of these relationships last no more than a year. 

Speaking from my own experience, the need for a mentor is crucial to your career development.  I have been fortunate to have found several mentors who helped me to move my career to the next level.  In each case, the mentor found me.  I did not seek them out specifically.  Each was caring, giving and confident.  They saw some potential in me once I entered their orbit and they pushed me to another level – a level that I did not even know existed.  They had confidence in my abilities and they pushed me forward – not telling me what to expect, but being behind me for support should I stumble.

For some good advice on finding a mentor, I searched the Business Week on line Archives and found an article from April 17, 2001:

Q: What advice would you give to a person who wants to find a mentor?
Go into the relationship with realistic expectations and understand that a mentor is not going to solve all of your career problems, but should provide guidance and be available to be leaned on. Try to ask around the organization: Who has had a good track record of being a mentor? One thing we know is that people mentor for different reasons. Some do it for recognition and other incentives from the organization. Others just because they're altruistic. It follows that if you can identify people who want to help others, their motives may be more aligned with the protégés'.

And from the May 23, 2003 issue:

THE RIGHT FIT.  So our mentoring relationship has gelled, which is interesting, because at the beginning, I didn't know exactly what I wanted from it. Two years ago, when I met Rick, I only knew that the issues for Indigo Wild were becoming more complex, taxing my ability to make the best decisions.

Back then, however, I did sense there was a fit between Rick and me. While our companies would appear to have little in common — his is a laser-cartridge manufacturer, mine a maker of soaps and candles — we do, in fact, both take individual components, create products from those parts, and sell the products. In short, our procedures are similar — and Rick understood that.

Rick also took my business seriously, which hasn't always been the case with others. What, after all, could be more frou-frou than a maker of soaps and candles? Add a female founder and the perception takes hold of an entrepreneurial wannabe stirring soap over a stove with children underfoot. Nothing could be further from the truth. Indigo Wild is all about six full-time employees, 15 part-timers, and sales soaring into the seven digits. And Rick understood that, too.

SUMMING UP.  Whenever I think about what's in it for Rick to help me, I need to acknowledge that he isn't getting paid and isn't an investor in Indigo Wild. Thus, I conclude that he is simply one of those people with a heart of gold — and one of those entrepreneurs who truly enjoys helping others launch and expand their businesses.

Companies and industry associations can help to establish mentoring networks.  There are many individuals who “truly enjoy helping other to launch and expand their businesses,” and they live to serve.  Reach out to them and offer them the opportunity to help other people whom they have not yet met.  Understand that a mentoring relationship can not guarantee success.  Chemistry in a relationship can not be mandated.  But it can be “encouraged.”

Please share some of your mentoring stores with our readers – were you the mentor or the mentee?  How did it turn out?

Share and Enjoy:
  • Add to favorites
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Technorati
  • Print
  • email
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Orkut
  • SphereIt
  • Sphinn

Speak Your Mind