By Chris Christoff, co-founder of MonsterInsights
Business owners hear advice from friends, family, peers and publications about how we ought to act. These people generally have our best interests at heart, and their knowledge is useful, but there's only so much their advice can help us grow. Now, young entrepreneurs are looking to forge connections with people who have experienced and overcome similar challenges.
Mentors are essential in the academic and professional lives of people all over the world. They are quickly becoming one of the best ways to become successful without falling into the same pitfalls as the business owners before you. Some mentors operate remotely, while others like meeting their mentees face to face.
Let's take a look at four tips you should keep in mind if you're looking for a mentor. Everyone's personal preferences will vary, depending on your industry, but these tips give you a dependable guideline for finding an all-star mentor.
Look for clear, realistic expectations.
It doesn't matter if your goal is to reach more consumers, grow your name in the industry or fine-tune your marketing strategy -- your mentor should set clear, realistic expectations.
For example, if someone says they would like to mentor you and that you'll have a million-dollar company in less than a year, you should stop to consider that this isn't a realistic expectation. We want to think that someone can help us rise to the top with little to no effort, but that's not how mentoring works.
Instead, look for people who will tell you that they have things to teach you, stories to share and advice based on their experiences. The goal of a mentor is to help you grow, not to create your career.
Remember, effective communication is a must.
Communication is vital in all professional situations. Mentors and mentees need to communicate effectively for practical training sessions. Imagine you went to meet up with your mentor, and they were a no-show. You would feel frustrated, disappointed and discouraged.
Similarly, some people are good at what they do but are not effective at teaching others. Keep an eye out for people who explain things in roundabout ways, with minimal details. These people are usually not the best choice for potential mentors.
All personal and professional relationships, including the ones between mentors and mentees, rely on trust and communication. Try to find a mentor who is transparent and punctual and who communicates with you because they want to, not because they feel obligated to help you.
Establish a mentorship based on aligned values.
Business owners want to hire people who share similar values to themselves and the company they build. Use that same passion to look for mentors who have values that align with your own. It's not easy to help you succeed if your goals, aspirations and personality types don't align. Drastically different values can drive a wedge between you and your mentor.
In this regard, try to find a mentor who reminds you of yourself. Similar mannerisms, ideas and ways of speaking can all indicate that your values align with those of your potential mentor.
Look for success stories.
Finally, you should seek out people who have success stories under their belt. There are several ways to determine the success of a mentor.
The first way is by looking at their success stories. Can you name the businesses they ran? Do you know why they are an effective leader and worth learning from? If you're not sure, don't hesitate to research a potential mentor before you start a partnership.
Similarly, you should look at other people the mentor has worked with in the past. Did anyone stand out significantly? These are all things you have to think about before you commit to a mentor. You wouldn't want to meet with someone five times, only to discover that they have mentored 15 people in the past, and each mentee went bankrupt.
Back to you.
Finding a mentor takes time and patience. There's nothing you can do to speed up the process, and you don’t want to risk partnering with someone who holds you back instead of helping you.
As your professional career grows, you may find yourself in a position to help other young entrepreneurs. You should analyze these situations carefully to make sure you're a good fit for a new generation of mentees.
Chris Christoff is the co-founder of MonsterInsights, the leading WordPress plugin for Google Analytics.