Be a Mentor: 4 Simple Steps to Change a Life
Becoming a mentor leads to career advancement and professional development. It improves networking skills and improves job-related well-being, self-esteem and confidence. Learn how to start in 4 steps.
Although mentoring doesn't directly result in financial gain, it's still a very beneficial instrument for individuals who want to share their firsthand experiences with others. Becoming a mentor leads to career advancement, professional development and promotion. In other words, sharing your experience makes you feel more alive and systemize knowledge when you pass it on to others. It's an excellent growth tool for entrepreneurs.
I have mentored for 500 Startups and recently became a mentor at Techstars, so I know firsthand how imparting my knowledge is beneficial for the companies I give valuable advice to and my professional growth.
This article will discuss the four steps to starting your mentoring journey.
1. Answer three crucial questions at the beginning
In which area do I have enough skills and knowledge to share? A mentor's experience must exceed the ability provided online or in courses. Otherwise, it will be a waste of time for those learning from you. You, as an entrepreneur, probably have enough expertise in a wide range of business areas, from hiring to fundraising. But among all the options, you need to choose the most valuable. For example, I founded Qmarketing, a marketing agency, and Refocus Digital Aсademy. My greatest strength is in Internet–marketing and digital. I also consider myself an expert in launching businesses in new markets. This is why I decided to become a mentor in these areas.
I'm interested in collecting as much data as possible from multiple businesses so that the brain neural network can learn and generate more precise hypotheses based on it. That's the exact reason I opened an agency with 400+ cases worldwide today — to make my brain neuroplastic and to make decisions based on a large dataset.
How much time can I devote to mentoring each week without compromising my business? Remember that you need to set aside time not only for meetings with mentees but also to prepare for them. Be objective about your time, and don't take many students at once. From my experience, 3-5 hours per week is enough, but make sure it does not affect your working hours. I prefer to hold mentorship sessions on weekends. Doing so helps keep my mind in tune.
2. Choose a starting point
There are many ways to find mentees — through personal connections or large communities. You can start with the simplest one: post on your social networking page that you are accepting mentees and come up with criteria from which you will choose the candidate. To do this, you need to determine who you see as your mentee: what stage the business is at, what industry the company is in, what problem the mentee wants to solve and how they have previously coped with challenges. This will help you determine how you can be most helpful to avoid wasting each other's time.
Also, if you are a conference speaker or webinar host, you can use that to your advantage. Leave your contact information, and let a new audience know you are open to mentoring. Finally, one of the top ways to find mentees is to join a global accelerator or startup incubator with mentorship programs such as 500 Startups and TechStars. This is precisely what I did: I applied through a form on the website, had two interviews, and became a mentor for other entrepreneurs.
3. Choose a mentee
Practical work and goal achievement depend significantly on the mentor-mentee relationship. I always try to look for a mentee similar to myself in terms of challenges, industry and character. When choosing a founder to mentor, I consider these factors:
- My interest in the field they come from
- The market they focus on
- Their commitment to the project
- Their flexibility and willingness to listen to advice
- Their desire to build a $1 million company
4. Improve your skills constantly
Once you start your mentoring journey, you must keep up with trends and take your knowledge to the next level. Developing new skills is essential because mentoring combines consulting, coaching and even psychological support.
What kind of skills should a mentor have? First, a mentor should have time management, communication skills and empathy. I would also add that it is crucial to be able to give honest and direct feedback. It would help to consider their character and reaction patterns to accomplish this with the student's benefit in mind. The opportunities to immerse oneself in human psychology and the art of communication are limitless. Your task is not to give students ready-made solutions but to help them find their ideas, develop creative thinking and learn problem-solving skills.
Since mentees should think they've arrived at the correct conclusion on their own, here's a list of the favorite questions I ask them:
- Is this the best solution to this problem?
- What problem are you trying to solve with this team's setup?
- Imagine you have no money in your account, or imagine you have $1 billion in your account — would you have done the same?
- Think back to when you've had similar compromise solutions work for you.
- If you die tomorrow, will these people be able to finish what you started the way you would have wanted them to?
- Add 5 Why's to any question — it allows you to go deeper into the essence of things
Being a mentor is a valuable experience and a great responsibility. You invest your time, knowledge and energy in other people. And these efforts will fully pay off! So if you are considering mentoring, follow these four steps, and go for it.
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