This blog post was written by Ian Haase, Vice President, Advisory Services at TechAlliance.
An actively engaged and experienced mentor can be an invaluable resource for any budding entrepreneur; however it’s a relationship that is often overlooked, especially when the daily grind of building the business seems to fill the entire day. Here are 5 tips for staying engaged with, and getting the most out of your mentor.
1. Understand why you need a mentor, and take time to find the right fit.
Engaging with a mentor simply to give your business legitimacy, or because someone mentioned you should have one, is not a good use of anyone’s time. Find someone you can work with and respect, recognizing that you may have to meet with a few people before something clicks.
2. Be coachable.
Being confident is great, but having all the answers isn’t. Few people can run a successful business by themselves (especially a tech company!). Mentors want to add value, and they want to work with people who are willing to listen to constructive feedback. This doesn’t mean that you always have to take the advice, but you should always hear it out and make an informed decision.
3. Less is more.
Sharing your idea with others is great; but you should avoid seeking out numerous individuals for strategic guidance at the same time. If you do engage with more than one mentor at a time, make sure everyone is comfortable with the situation and suggest working sessions as a team.
4. Give back.
Mentors volunteer their time because they want to, but that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve anything in return. In fact, many are actively looking for work and are using mentorship as a way to keep connected. Take the time to appreciate the connections or strategic direction your mentor has provided for you, and if the relationship is particularly positive, discuss the options of bringing them onto your team (or into a board position if their time is limited).
5. You drive the bus.
Show up for meetings, don’t be late, and buy the coffee/beer. Appreciate and respect the time and advice that is given to you, and keep your mentor informed often – especially when major developments or decisions arise.