Startups can benefit greatly by having mentors and trusted advisors. They can also expand their network and influence by BEING a trusted advisor or mentor. They can guide you on the path, show you where to grow and show you some potential pitfalls to avoid. LinkedIn and personal branding expert Viveka Von Rosen and I discuss how to find a mentor in sales AND what NOT to do when seeking mentorship.
Start by asking for help with an immediate problem that you’re facing. If you know you’re not hiring a team for at least a year don’t waste the mentor’s time discussing hiring practices. Know what you need help with RIGHT NOW.
Ask more than one person to mentor you. Everyone has different life experiences and viewpoints. The more viewpoints you have the more options and opportunities you have to solve that problem you’re facing.
Get mentors in different areas of business. You probably need help in a variety of business arenas. One person can’t have all the answers. The mentor with whom you discuss how to close a sale most likely won’t be the same mentor that can advise you on how to hire your first employee. Go where the expertise lies.
ASKING SOMEONE TO BE YOUR MENTOR
Two of the strongest points that Viveka makes in our interview about successfully finding a mentor are: Be RESPECTFUL of their time and SET EXPECTATIONS about their time. Time is the most valuable asset any of us has and if someone is kind enough to offer their time to you then you need to manage that time wisely. Here’s how to do that.
Do your research into that person. Read their blog if they have one, review their LinkedIn profile, set up a Google Alert with their name to capture the latest news about them. Don’t go into a phone call expecting the first half of the call to be them telling you about themselves. Mentoring is getting advice, not just listening to a life story.
Make it as easy as possible for them to be your mentor. This is where the research comes in. Go into your meetings ready to ask about specific parts of their careers as they relate to your problem at hand.
Don’t get on the phone and talk about your family and pets for an hour and a half. Building rapport involves sharing some personal stories. Mentoring is about getting advice to solve a problem, not finding someone’s favorite restaurant. Focus on discussing the problem at hand.
Get right to the questions so they can answer them and get on with their day. The right questions are the ones that create opportunities for you to create solutions and build your business faster than you could alone.
THE GIFT OF MENTORSHIP
Viveka says “You need that guidance. You need someone to light the path for you. We shouldn’t, in this day and age, have to recreate the wheel all on our own every time we want to do something.”