I saw a great question on Quora this week, which inspired this week’s blog:

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The product manager in me always likes to break questions like this into smaller pieces: Why? What? How?

Why Should You Seek a Mentor?

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Entrepreneurs looking to start or expand their business, accountants taking the leap from employee to partner, new or newly promoted leaders all benefit from the mentorship and guidance of an external advisor.

A mentor offers different support and guidance than that of your manager as they can rise above the day to day running of the business and provide focus for personal and strategic goals.  They may or may not work for the same organisation as you, however it’s important they don’t work directly with you to avoid any conflict with you daily duties.

What Should You Look for in a Great Mentor?

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You need to be able to relate to your mentor and build a rapport – this will be an ongoing relationship and you need to be comfortable talking with them and trusting them.

A good mentor will help you see the short term hurdles you are facing and how to approach them.  A GREAT mentor will guide you to find your own answers to the challenges you face now and in the future, and equip you with the tools and confidence you need to excel.  Expect them to push you outside of your comfort zone.

DO ask your mentor about your goals.  Tell them what you want to achieve.  Together you will formulate a plan and set regular meetings or calls to go through your actions.

DO NOT expect your mentor to do this for you- they are your guidance; you still need to put in the hard work.

How Can I find A Mentor?

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Start by looking through your contact book; people you have worked for/with, those who you admire and aspire to be like. Your mentor needs to be someone you relate to, and maybe an expert in your industry.  It is, however, more important that you can talk openly with your mentor and are inspired by them than it is that you have similar professions.

You can also look to professional mentors, like myself, who have lead teams at accountancy practices and software companies, from start-ups to international companies. They can help guide you through the launch and expansion of your business.  Prices vary, but as with most things in life, you get what you pay for.

Face to face meetings are great, but with high-quality internet connections and Skype, WebEx or similar conferences tools freely available it is no longer a pre-requisite.  Don’t be constrained to just looking in your immediate area.

Professional mentors will usually have a strong social media and internet presence.  Don’t be afraid to do a little research on them – LinkedIn is great for professional background, Twitter and Facebook for learning more about their personality, and blogs and articles to find out their particular expertise.

Summary

Finding a great mentor can provide a tangible boost to your business or professional career.  They will be a trusted advisor to support and guide you through the challenges you face.  Look for someone you trust, respect and aspire to be like, whether they be an existing friend or colleague, or a professional mentor.

What tips do you have for others?  Tell me about your mentoring experiences in the comments below.

Octopus Blue will help you to expand your business network, with consultancy and advisory services to help define and monitor your company vision and mentoring services to assist you and your team achieve them.

Contact andy.bailey@octopusblueuk.com 07974 717713 to discuss further.

 

 

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