How To Find A Good Mentor

It is not a bad idea to have a mentor in our lives. When we’re children, our parents are our mentors. When we go to school and college, our teachers are our mentors. In sports, we have coaches who are our mentors. But when we get into a professional field or start our own business (startup), it is essential to have mentors who can tell us the difference between right and wrong, and guide us through the process of building a company. It doesn’t matter if you are an entrepreneur or a developer, or whatever your profession is, just don’t be afraid to ask for help.

I am writing a book on startups and if you’re a startup founder and do not have a mentor, I highly recommend that you start searching for one.

In this article, I will talk about the importance of a mentor, how to find a mentor, and how to continue a healthy relationship with your mentor.

Let’s see what people are saying

Let’s take a look at some of the top posts about mentors and what people are saying about mentors and their traits.

Inc. magazine writes about the 7 Key Qualities of an Effective Mentor:

  1. Ability and willingness to communicate what you know
  2. Preparedness about mentee’s goals and objectives
  3. Approachability, availability, and the ability to listen
  4. Honesty with diplomacy
  5. Inquisitiveness
  6. Objectivity and fairness
  7. Compassion and genuineness

Here is another good article written in Franchise Growth Partners, Good Qualities Of a Mentor, that talks about the following 10 qualities a mentor should possess.

  1. Willingness to share skills, knowledge, and expertise.
  2. Demonstrates a positive attitude and acts as a positive role model.
  3. Takes a personal interest in the mentoring relationship.
  4. Exhibits enthusiasm in the field.
  5. Values ongoing learning and growth in the field.
  6. Provides guidance and constructive feedback.
  7. Respected by colleagues and employees in all levels of the organization.
  8. Sets and meets ongoing personal and professional goals.
  9. Values the opinions and initiatives of others.
  10. Motivates others by setting a good example.

Forbes also published a good article, 5 Qualities Look For In A Mentor, that talks about some of the key traits of mentors.

  1. Self-reflection - They need to have wisdom to share.
  2. Discretion - Be honest about your own life and circumstances.
  3. Honesty - Needs to be brave enough to give you a straight answer.
  4. Curiosity - Mentor needs to be curious about you and your work.
  5. Generosity of Spirit - A great mentor wants you to succeed, and he or she will actively support your success with words and action. A great mentor will never be envious or feel threatened by your growth.

In another article, Why Entrepreneurs Need Good Mentors, the author writes that you should look for four qualities in a mentor.

  • A good mentor has expert-level experience.
  • A good mentor has had success as an entrepreneur.
  • A good mentor is patient and action-oriented.
  • A good mentor is direct yet supportive.

Who are mentors?

Not everyone can be a mentor. A mentorship is a selfless act. Mentors have different reasons to help you. It could be one of the following:

  • Someone helped them when they needed it
  • They want to give back to the community
  • Self-actualization
  • They are just born this way
  • And any other reasons

Where to look for a good mentor?

Good mentors aren’t easy to find. First you need to know what kind of help you need and then go identify the right person.

The first place to look for mentors is family and friends. These are people who know you better than anyone else. You need to look for a family member/friend who is successful and has time and desire to help you.

The next place to look for mentors is extended family and friends. A good friend of your father could be a good mentor.

If you still can’t find a mentor, look for someone for whom you have worked in the past. Many people have their former bosses as their mentors. Your college professor can be a mentor. You already have a previous relationship established with these people and they trust you.

One more place to find a mentor is you can go online and start doing research on your ideal mentor. Start following them and try to meet them at events or in person. I have a friend who sent a message on Twitter to a successful retired CEO and offered to buy him coffee.

Let me add one point here. When you ask for help, don’t get discouraged if you do not get a favorable response. Not everyone is looking for a mentee. Just keep looking for the one until you find one. Don’t forget, success requires patience and persistence.

Qualities to look for in a mentor

You have seen some key traits to look for when searching for a mentor. Once you know what kind of personality you need to guide you through your journey, and who the right target is, you still need to do your research.

Here is my list of the top five qualities a good mentor should have:

  • A mentor believes in you and your idea.
  • A mentor has time for you.
  • A mentor puts his personal interest aside and looks for your success only.
  • A mentor is going to push you hard and will tell you when you’re diverting away from your goals.
  • A mentor will tell you if he or she is not capable of helping you and guiding you in the right direction.

How to build a healthy relationship with your mentor

So, now you have found a mentor. It is very important to build and sustain a healthy relationship with your mentor.

There is one thing you should never forget. Mentors are helping you, not the other way around. You need them, not the other way around.

Here are some of the key points you should follow.

Respect

You must respect your mentor and his or her advice. Before you ask for an ideal mentor, you must become an ideal student.

Trust

If you have selected the right mentor, you need to trust him or her. Remember, the reason you have a mentor because you need someone to help you make decisions.

Truthful

You should be truthful to yourself. A mentor is like a doctor. Hiding anything from your mentor will only hurt you.

Give a space

A mentor’s time is a valuable resource. You must use it wisely and as needed.

Recognition

Most mentors don’t expect anything from you. But it’s not a bad idea to let them know how much you appreciate their help. It’s not that a mentor expect anything from you but gifting a bottle of wine or something special may not be a bad idea.

Summary

In this article, we discussed the role of mentorship and how to find a good mentor. We also saw what to look for in a mentor and how to build a good relationship with your mentor.

I hope you learn from this article. Please do share your experience as a mentor or a mentee with us.