What is mentoring about?
Mentoring is a special relationship between a master and an apprentice. You can find good examples in modern culture: Obiwan Kanobee and Luke Skywalker from Star Wars and Cane (David Carradine) from the old Kung Fu TV series. In centuries past this was the only way to pass on critical knowledge of a craft. The mentor's role was to teach, coach and encourage.

Why have a mentor?
Your mentor can help you avoid costly mistakes and cut years off your growth curve. At critical times in your development your mentor can offer you the course correction or key piece of advice. Nothing beats one-on-one attention and instruction.

How else might a mentor help you in business?
The greatest value of the mentor is his experience and perspective. The mentor gives you what you can't get from books.

Your mentor could open doors of opportunity for you in two ways. She might introduce you to key contacts. And by virtue of being associated with your mentor - others will see you differently and grant you more respect and opportunity. The thinking is, "If the master likes him, he must be good."

You might even partner with your mentor on a project or product. The mentor's name lends credibility to you while you might do the grunt work. For example you might co-author a report or book.

Why would someone mentor you?
A pure mentoring relationship isn't about money. You don't pay her. She helps you because she wants to. She picked you because she sees something of herself in you. She has the opportunity to pass on her knowledge and perspective to one who appreciates it.
And being appreciated is a powerful emotional need. There is a teacher in many of us. There is also the gardener that wants to help things grow. Most often the mentor helps you because of your potential, effort and appreciation. Be sure to thank and respect your mentor.

How can you find a mentor?
Clearly identify your growth needs to create a profile of what you need from a mentor. Describe your ideal mentor in terms of his experience, perspective, accomplishments etc… Then go where you will most likely find him.

If you know what you are looking for then you will recognize that person when you meet them. Go to business events. Get known in your community, associations, and industry. Many successful people volunteer for charities and community service groups. You can meet them if you get involved.

Tell the connectors in your network what you are looking for. Ask them for suggestions and introductions.

Another way to make first contact is to interview your prospective targets. You might write a report or article for a business publication, trade magazine or your association newsletter. Use that as an excuse to contact and interview the people you want to meet.

Of course you might simply cold call your potential mentors and ask them for x minutes of their time. Always state the purpose and maximum time for this first meeting. You don't need to announce your intention to find a mentor. Just ask for one meeting to pick their brain and see if the relationship clicks. You might hold this meeting by phone, over coffee or lunch. You asked for the meeting so be sure to pay the bill.

Ask for permission to follow up and send a hand written thank you note.

What mistakes should you avoid?
Respect your mentor's time. Remember you are the apprentice. Don't ask for advice and ignore it, or worse, discount it. When you don't understand something - ask for clarification. If you don't feel right about something tell him. Be sure to report progress - good and bad, to your mentor. Don't embarrass your mentor with questionable or unethical behaviour. And don't sully his name.

If you are lucky enough to find and work with a mentor then you could quickly become the next Picasso in your field. And remember to pay back by mentoring others.

Author's Bio: 

SG© George Torok is co-author of "Secrets of Power Marketing: Promote Brand You". To arrange your keynote speech or training program call 905-335-1997 or email George@Torok.com . To receive a free copy of 50 Power Marketing Ideas® and your free subscription to monthly marketing tips visit www.PowerMarketing.ca