The choice of a mentor is yours, and more often than not, people choose someone they love and who has impacted positively on their lives.
There are several ways you can speak to someone of your choice and convince him/her to be your mentor. You can write to the desired mentor by email or by booking an appointment on the phone, asking him to grant you audience for such a discussion. You can equally ask for a referral from someone very close to the person. I recall my first experience with my mentor. I had written an inspiring letter to him, appreciating the way he had inspired me and sought his audience for a discussion about my life. When he received the letter, he wrote back to me and invited me for a meeting. Both of us were excited to see each other. As the discussion went on that fateful day, I asked him to become my mentor. Although he did not give me an answer on that first day when we met, he accepted to be my mentor the second day when I called him to thank him for giving me audience the previous day. That was how our relationship started.
Another thing I would like to remind you is the fact that age and gender is not a barrier to a mentoring relationship. Anybody can be your mentor as far as you are sure the person has the right knowledge and experience to impact your life.
When you have finally arranged the first meeting with your desired mentor, explore the opportunity of introducing yourself and your background and then propose politely to him that you want him to act as your mentor. After the meeting, no matter what the outcome of the meeting is, summon enough courage to send a thank you note to him/her. If the person finally accepts to be your mentor, endeavour, to maintain the relationship the way your mentor wants it and be patient in learning about your mentor any time you have the opportunity to do so. At every meeting, keep to the schedule and ensure you manage your mentor’s time well.
Tips for Would-Be Mentors
There are lots of us that accept to play the role of a mentor but do not understand what our roles and responsibilities entail. This situation frequently results in the inability to meet up with the expectation of their mentees. These are based on my experience, and those garnered from a few successful entrepreneurs, who act as my mentors too. I believe sharing it with you will help you to develop further good leadership habits that you require to discharge your roles and responsibility in a way which will bring the best out of the mentees.
The role of a mentor is tasking and challenging one. Sometimes it could be tempting, especially if the relationship involves an opposite gender. Bearing in mind that the way we handled the relationship determines how successful the mentee will be in future, we must at all times ask God for wisdom to enable us to bring the best out of them. The experience I garnered in the last few years by mentoring young entrepreneurs, especially at Fate Foundation where I serve as a business instructor has enhanced my leadership ability as well as the way I resolve business problems. This has helped me to produce more results than ever before. Contrary to the belief of many people, being a mentor, to me, is fun and exciting though it is challenging and demanding. To make a positive impact on another person’s life requires a high level of commitment and leadership skill.
One of the critical things that I do as a mentor is to get the mentee to feel at ease and comfortable with me. I do this by showing genuine interest, understanding, kindness, appreciation, flexibility in the way I relate with them and openness of heart using sound business and social, moral values. Most of the time, I see myself handling problems that go beyond their activities because I believe they need to be motivated in all areas of life before they can succeed in business. I also ensure that I appraise the achievements that I make in their life and business regularly.
Communication is vital in any relationship, and mentoring relationship is not an exception. There must be effective communication between the mental and the mentee. Each person must understand his/her role, setting boundaries on areas that can bring conflict. From experience, I see myself playing the role of a teacher. As a teacher, you need to teach the mentee the necessary skill and knowledge required to run his/her business successfully. A good mentor must act as a teacher by sharing practical business experience and information that can guide the mentee to be a successful businessman. Often, I also see myself playing the role of a counsellor. The role of the mentor may require you to establish a trust relationship with your mentee. Your mentees will regularly share confidential matters with you. To be a successful mentor, you must keep such information confidential without disclosing it to another person, including your spouse. You must offer unbiased and quality advice that will see the mentee through the difficulties.
There are situations where the mentee is in a hopeless situation considering all the challenges facing him/her. You must be a motivator at this time by encouraging and supporting him to meet the challenges. To be a successful mentor, you need to work closely with the mentee and make yourself available during difficult and challenging moments. Doing this may entail making calls, visits and attending to him stressful period.
Occasionally, you may also need to encourage your mentees by giving them incentives and sharing the use of your resources with them to pursue a critical assignment and ambition. As a mentor, I assume the position of a sponsor by creating business opportunities through referrals and networking. Occasionally, it entails working with them to develop new business initiatives and exposing them to personal development activities like seminars and workshops. Your mentoring relationship may involve doing these and other sponsored events for your mentees. This assignment will occasionally entail you playing the role of the door-opener for business opportunities by establishing a network of contacts like all your professional colleagues, business associates and club members, who can help them build their network structure.
Being a mentor also makes an automatic role model. As a role model, you must leave a good example of values and business ethics. Over time, the mentees will imitate your lifestyle. You should, at all times, give them the opportunity of learning the positive quality of your life.
Other tips that can make your mentoring relationship a delightful one are as follows:
- Do not allow the relationship to conflict with your marital life and business.
- Put in place a feedback mechanism that will enable you to understand if the mentees are enjoying the relationship.
- Do a regular achievement appraisal with a target.
- Be clear about the limit or boundary of the relationship.
- Appreciate and express thanks when the mentee provides help.
- Respect the mentee’s time and opinion.
- Always try to bring or discover the best of the mentee.
- Deal carefully with disagreements.
- Do not get romantically involved.
- Be generous and evaluate achievement of goals and aspiration of the mentee.
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