How to Find A Small Business Mentor
How to Find a Business Mentor
Do you want someone in your life that can kick your ass when you need it, and tell you how they found success? Someone that knows you should be playing a bigger game, and can help you get there?
That is why I’m going to challenge you this month. You need a mentor.
A mentor is someone that acts as a guide, that you can reach out to for strategic advice and can push you forward if you need it. Many times you start to build relationships with people in such a way that you could call them a mentor, but neither one of you officially asked!
(Did I mention you usually don’t pay them monetarily?)
Now, a mentor is someone you don’t necessarily seek to be your best friend. Mentors are someone you can ask for advice occasionally, and they will respond. You want someone that’s very high level, that is where you want to be in a few years time. They’ll give you insider knowledge for strategy and planning.
They also don’t have to be your mentor for life. In my experience a solid mentor lasts a few months up to a few years (and quite a few of mine turned intro friendships more than a mentorship) But don’t expect that you have to choose one mentor for life! But how do you find a business mentor? Keep reading 🙂
Finding My Mentor
Getting a mentor is partly on you to take the initiative to ask for advice. The other part is an organic relationship that can grow from a chance encounter. Here is how I got two amazing mentors:
Before I had any real experience in my business, I decided I wanted to talk to the competition. The competition was a sixty-year-old man, and I was a twenty-seven-year-old gal (who looked about eighteen). Asking for his advice put me on the fast track to where I am now.
I don’t know where I would have been if I wasn’t willing to send the email to him.
One day while I was looking up potential competitors that were local, I found Kurk Lalemand. He spoke at all of the local events, and was well known in the community. I was a bit intimidated reading about him. He had sold a million dollar business, and had a great network already.
I decided to send him an email on a whim. I mentioned that I had recently moved to the area and was getting into coaching and found him. I laid out a few questions for him in the email. Shortly after I received an email back from him asking to set up a time to chat. Our meeting that was supposed to be an hour lasted over 2 hours.
He ended up giving me a ton of advice on who to target in the area and where I should be connected. I thought it was amazing that he was so willing to give advice. I left his office thinking how great our meeting went, so I decided to send him a thank you note. I just wanted to thank him for all of the time he gave me.
I was surprised when a few days later I received an email from him, asking about a possible mentor/apprentice role. When we met about it, he said the thank you card I sent really sealed the deal about asking. Even though he was looking to mentor someone who was much older than I was, he was really impressed.
I ended up working for free for him for a few hours a week for six months, in exchange he taught me everything he knew. Because he was a coach and a mentor he was able to push me and help me grow personally. The growth I experienced in those months were exponential. He had me cold calling, doing cold walk ins, public speaking and really stepping out of my comfort zone.
I’ve found many mentors since. I would say at LEAST 15 of the millionaires I interviewed mentioned if there was any way they could help just to ask. I’ve chatted for many hours with them after the phone calls on specific business issues I have. I’ve been able to lean on them and their experience countless times.
Now here is how to do it:
Step 1: Connecting
First we need to identify a few potential people so that way you know what to do if the opportunity arises. Where do you want to be in 5 years?
You should find someone that is where you want to be in the next few years. The closer you can get to your industry the better, since they will have actual experience.
It should be pretty easy to think about the people you know or follow. If you can’t ask direct competitors, see if you can find a niche that is similar but doesn’t compete with you.
Let’s say you sell organic baby food, try and find someone who might have an amazing company that sells sippy cups. That way they have the same target demographic but you aren’t competing.
You don’t have to find someone that specific though either. Almost anyone that is successful in business can help you with your confidence issues, or finding a good team, or many other things that you could use advice for.
Write a list of at least 10 potential mentors. Check facebook, search online, or ask friends.
Starting the Relationship
Interview Them – Seriously. Starting a podcast was the best thing I’ve ever done for expanding my network. You don’t have to have a podcast though, you could even just post it on your site.
Click here to learn exactly how to contact people for an interview with actual emails that got Barbara Corcoran from Shark Tank to say yes! (Believe me, this works!)
Email them Cold – Find someone that has a presence online and you can find their email address. Here is exactly how Derek Sivers (Founder of CDbaby and one of my favorite guests on the show) says to do it. Including Email templates!
Meet them At a Conference/Networking Event – Nothing compares to meeting people face to face. It’s even better if you are both local so you can take them out to lunch or coffee.
Figure out the best way to initially meet your potential mentors. (write it next to their name!)
Step 2: Give First
If you listened to the interview with Bob Burg, one of his laws in the Go-Giver is:
The Law of Influence
Your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other people’s interests first.
Don’t ask first. Give to a potential mentor first.
Once I decided to go online I realized I needed help for the ins and outs of online marketing. First I created a mastermind group (stay tuned for next months challenge for this one!) and then I found a mentor.
I didn’t directly choose him, the opportunity around because I had been following his blog online for awhile. He posted on Twitter that he was looking for a part time project manager.
Since I used to be a project manager I sent him an email. I didn’t know him beforehand, but said I would love to help him out since I used to be a project manager. I offered 5 hours per week for free in exchange for some mentoring on online business.
He loved the idea and we started working together, and actually became friends. He critiqued my website, and gave me advice on what to do online. He also was there at my first conference to introduce me to all of the speakers and people he was already friends with. When you can get introduced to high level people as a friend of a friend, that is the greatest networking tactic ever! 🙂
We only worked together for a few months, but that really kickstarted my confidence online.”
In interviewing many millionaires most of them suggest that they want to see initiative and giving before they mentor too. Mike Dillard (interview coming soon!) suggested if you have bought a product by them you should send them a testimonial. Or recommend their products to friends first.
Figure out how your skills, knowledge or network can help them. (And don’t think they know everything already or have all they need!)
- Give them a testimonial
- Become an affiliate of theirs
- Connect them with a top influencer they might want to know
- Ask if you can work for them for free for 5 hours a week (just to see the inside of their business)
- Comment with other ideas too if you can think of good ones!
Step 3: Deepening the Relationship
Depending on your level of relationship with them at this point you might need to deepen the relationship.
Because you don’t want say here is a testimonial, now can you help me?
If they offer to help, of course you can say yes. But in general, find out ways to connect with them again, like help them whenever you can, reach out, send a personal note, or connect on Facebook, send them a small personal gift etc. If they like certain hobbies try to invite them to do that. (I’ve had a lot of amazing people go see UFC fights with me while I’m at conferences!) Or invite them to an invite only party.
I know that I get a lot of emails a day from wonderful listeners of the podcast. It takes me either a few email interactions, or seeing them on Facebook a lot, or a personalized gift (which is totally buying my love, but I remember quite a few of you because of the sweet thoughtful gifts!) really helps me identify and remember who they are. Which in turn allows me to want to help them more because I feel a connection.
Pick one idea to deepen your relationship with each potential mentor.
Step 4: The Ask!
Sometimes there is not a formal ask. It can be weird to ask…
“Will you be my mentor……?”
Work on building the relationship, and then if you have a business (or personal!) problem that you know they can help you with, ask!
I ended up chatting with a millionaire after the show, and realized how much information he had that could be so useful for me. I asked to see if we could chat at another time since I had another meeting.
We scheduled that chat and he let me know if I ever had any questions at all he was there to help. I chatted with him every other week for a few months, he even went into my programs and gave me feedback, and talked to affiliates for me.
I never had to do that awkward ask. (Thank goodness!)
And some relationships will never turn into a mentorship, and that’s ok!
In the immortal words of Dan Martell, just f’n do it!
So please, if you have made it this far, commit to putting finding a mentor on your priority list for this month. It will take time at first, but it will save you time and money (and make you money!) in the future.
Hi I’m Jaime. Each and every week I bring you the top business advice from the people who know best.Learn More