Entrepreneurs seeking mentors: 4 questions to ask

Toni Widman, CEO & President, Integrated Talent Solutions

Working with a mentor can serve as a leg up for any professional in any industry—including entrepreneurs. They are not immune to the challenges business people face. In fact, in some ways, their struggles are amplified.  Having a sounding board and another set of eyes and ears can be just what an entrepreneur needs to hit that next level of success.

Here are 4 questions entrepreneurs should ask themselves to help find the right mentor:

1. Why this person?

If you have someone in mind, ask yourself what qualities might make this person compatible. First and foremost, ideally it should be someone who is approachable and perhaps has even accomplished the goals you have set forth.

When you have someone in mind, avoid asking the person outright if he or she is willing to mentor you. Instead, you might consider starting with an “icebreaker” session, like coffee or lunch, to get a feel for how well (or not) you click. After all, both parties should feel comfortable in the match.

2. Is this person community-minded?

Good mentors are well connected and like to give back. Not only will they understand your challenges, but they also might know people who can help you overcome them. As is often said, “It takes a village.”

 3. Can this person help me professionally?

Understand the dynamics of a mentoring relationship. Mentorship does not mean telling you what to do. It’s about someone encouraging you to do the legwork to seek the answers yourself. It really should be a give and take dynamic. The mentee must be willing to hear out new ideas, act on advice, and be prepared to pivot as needed.

4.  Is this person happy in his or her career?

Being good at something and doing well in a career, at least on the surface, isn’t always indicative of success. If a seemingly successful person is miserable pursuing their current work, it will show — and that person is not the ideal match for you. The best mentor is someone who truly loves his or her work.

If you are an entrepreneur who is looking for a mentor, join us for our Successful Habits for Mentoring Relationships, Wednesday, May 30, hosted by WEOC and SCORE at The NIIC. Seats are open, and you can register here. https://www.eventbrite.com/e/successful-habits-for-mentoring-relationships-tickets-43709134197


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