Friday, January 21, 2011

10 Things to Look for in a Mentor

1. Experienced - Mentors are typically older, but that is not a rule. As Bud Bilinch from Fast Company states, one of his mentors is 20 years younger than him and is teaching him the ways of the Web 2.0 world.

2. Character – Your mentor should be a person that you respect and admire. Many times a protege (mentee) patterns his or her life after the life of the mentor and thus you want to ensure you are following a person that with good moral standing.

3. Similar Goals - Find a mentor that has goals similar to yours. It can only help your chances of success if your mentor has already gone through a lot of the work you have in front of you.

4. Availability - Your mentor needs to be available for interaction. It can be great to have a really successful person mentoring you, but if they aren’t available to meet, it defeats the purpose of the arrangement.

5. Open-minded – You need a mentor that is open-minded. This will allow you to progress in a way you need to progress, not necessarily in the way the mentor would prefer.

6. Caring – We all want people to think what we’re doing is important especially our mentor. A mentor needs to care about your success just as much as you do. This is a person that should help you up when you fall and all of this starts with the mentor caring about you and your success.

7. Positive – Your mentor needs to be positive and help keep you positive. If you spend a meaningful amount of time with your mentor, and they are positive, this is bound to rub off on you. Remember, good thoughts in, good thoughts out. People want to work with other positive people. The future is bright and as Henry Ford says “Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right.”

8. Focus – You want a mentor who is able to not only focus on you and what you would like to achieve, but also help you focus. For instance, let’s say you are new to starting a business and have a mentor who has been successful in starting many businesses over the past 30 years. Starting a business can be a daunting task. There’s a lot of things to think about and especially in the beginning, you have to wear many hats. A mentor can help direct you to what might be the most important point in terms of starting a business.

9. Believes in You – A mentor needs to believe in your potential. If they aren’t sold on you, they aren’t going to put all of their effort into the mentor-protege relationship. No one wins in this relationship and both parties are wasting their time.

10. Open and Honest – A mentor-protege relationship is most beneficial when you can both share experiences and bits of information that a normal acquaintance wouldn’t know about you. Openness and honesty also help build credibility and trust among the mentor and protege.

Remember, a mentoring relationship is only as good as the sum of it’s parts. This is only a guide line for what to look for in a mentor. You may add or subtract from this list as pertains to your situation.

Are there other qualities you look for in a mentor? How did you decide who your mentor was going to be?

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