Linda Phillips-Jones, president of The Mentoring Group, offers a few important "don'ts" in building a successful mentoring relationship.
1. DON'T be desperate or apologetic in seeking help. If you seem needy or oversell yourself, a prospective mentor will probably think you're too big a risk.
2. DON'T give up easily. Some mentors are impressed by prospective mentees who are persistent. It demonstrates both their self-confidence and commitment.
3. DON'T wait too long after your prospective coach shows early signs of interest. Get the help you need before he or she commits to something or someone else.
- Virtually every city in the United States offers mentoring programs--all you have to do is look around. Start by making inquiries at your local chamber of commerce. Many churches, synagogues and fraternal organizations offer mentoring opportunities; college alumni organizations often pair start-up entrepreneurs with graduates running successful businesses. Professional and trade organizations, conferences, trade shows and conventions also provide opportunities to connect with potential mentors.
- If you're a woman, you'll find organizations in many cities provide business advice to local entrepreneurs. Those offering mentoring opportunities to women nationwide include Catalyst Organizations and SBA's Office of Women's Business Ownership. Another program is the Women's Network for Entrepreneurial Training Mentoring Program, which matches experienced women business owners with women in the start-up phase for a yearlong program.
Bob Weinstein is the author of 10 books and is a frequent contributor to national magazines.