Find the Mentors You Need
Finding the Mentors You Need
A Guide for Professionals
By Roger Pierce
Knowing everything about your profession and the running of your practice is impossible. Client challenges and management issues come along to test even those who are experienced in both. This is when mentors can help. A mentor can shorten your learning curve, propose solutions and offer guidance even when you don’t know you need it.
Finding the mentors you need starts with knowing what you want to achieve with your mentors. Your goals for mentoring might be supported with:
• Professional development.
• Starting your own practice.
• Growing your practice.
With your goals in mind, you can define the knowledge, skills and experience you want your mentors to have. The mentor you need may be:
• An academic in your field.
• A professional in your field who has faced similar challenges.
• A business person you respect.
Identifying prospective mentors is the next step. You can find them through:
• Family and friends.
• Networking meetings.
• Newspaper or professional journals.
• Professional associations.
• Government programs.
Finally, develop a relationship with those mentors that make the grade. Send them an email or note indicating that you respect who they are and what they have achieved, and that you have an issue that you would like to run by them. Take them to coffee or lunch for a brief discussion. Take notes so that they know you are serious about their advice. Send them a note of thanks for their time and for generously sharing their experience and expertise.
If you like what you hear, act on their advice. Once you’ve seen results, give them feedback so that they have the satisfaction of knowing that their advice was not only appreciated but useful. At this point, you may want to take them out for a thank you meal. This is an opportunity to suggest a regular mentoring relationship.
As with a business consultant, you are ultimately responsible for your decision to follow your mentor’s advice. Unlike a business consultant, the cost of advice is very affordable.
Whether your firm is in start-up, expansion or consolidation mode, whether your professional experience is limited or extensive, having mentors will help you address the challenges of your practice with greater confidence and success.