I must sincerely state that the task of asking someone you’ve not met before to be your mentor may not be easy, especially in a society like ours where trust and honesty have been replaced with the tendency to get rich quickly. However, some experienced and successful businessmen out there still accept to mentor the younger ones on the condition that the mentee will demonstrate ethical behaviour and unquestionable character, bearing in mind that the mentoring relationship is built on trust. Hence, entrepreneurs seeking the assistance of older and successful people in business are expected to exhibit discipline, honesty and excellent reputation as virtues. When you are an honest and obedient person, it will be easier for you to get people accepting to be your mentor.
In the choice of mentors, people often choose someone they love or someone who has positively impacted their lives. Mentors may include clients, relatives, family friends, former bosses, and people met in a social or business event, church members, senior professional colleagues or someone admired or read about in the media. I recall that some years back, my first mentor was a newspaper columnist who had inspired me through his writing. Though I had never met him before, I saw him as a role model who could help bring the best out of me. Before I made up my mind about him as a mentor, I had decided on the set of characteristics that I desired from my would-be mentor. Working with these set of predetermined criteria give me the opportunity to approach the person that would best fit my choice, bearing in mind the role such a person would be playing in my life. I also knew that not all successful businessmen would be good mentors. I was selective, and my criteria went beyond financial success. In making up my mind, and make sure that the person of my choice had a passion for human development.
Based on my experience over the years, there are typical characteristics that are common to most successful mentors which can form part of your criteria as you decide who should be your mentor. For instance, the person of your choice must be willing and generous to share his idea and time with you. From experience, someone that is always busy may not be a good mentor as such a person may not have the time to attend to you when you need them. A good mentor must have a good sense of humour. Although this is a business relationship, it should still be filled with fun. I remember each time I met with my mentor; it was always a handful of fun and excitement as this set the tone for our business discussion. Your mentor must be someone you can trust. Trust is the only magic that makes such a relationship last. Your mentor must be caring and courageous. Caring people are always motivators. All days cannot be Christmas. When times are hard, you need a motivator to encourage and push you to move on amidst your challenges. A mentor must also be knowledgeable, experienced in your area of business, and finally, he must be someone that is mentally and socially mature.
Having determined all the criteria for picking a mentor, the next thing you must do is to make a move to contact the person. Sometimes, the person of your choice can be someone who has been helpful to you on a smaller scale in the past. Do not take this for granted by assuming that he is already a mentor. You must make a move to ask such a person out for a mentoring relationship, clearly stating how you want the person to mentor you. There are several ways to contact someone of your choice. You can write to him. You can ask for a referral from someone that is close to the person, or you can book an appointment on the phone or by email asking the person to grant you audience for such a discussion. I remember my first experience with my mentor. I wrote an inspiring letter to him appreciating the way he had inspired me with his writing and seeking an audience with him for a discussion about my life.