I didn’t know that hiring a mentor was a thing until I saw it on Career Contessa, one of my favourite blogs. At first I thought, who would want to hire a mentor? How do you even go about it? Well, if you have similar questions, please stick around as we discuss this concept.
Mentoring is a career-focused relationship between two people. It is a relationship where the more experienced or knowledgeable person helps and guides the not-so-experienced or less knowledgeable person. The main focus of mentoring is to help develop and nurture the whole person in a chosen field. The mentor may be older or younger, but he/she needs to have the knowledge/skills to impart on the other person.
To hire a mentor is essentially to hire someone with vast experience to help steer you in the right direction. There are so many career-based and/or entrepreneurship websites where you can apply to hire a mentor. Some of these websites are Career Contessa, Mentor For Hire, and the mentorship programme on Legally Engaged. I’m sure there are lots and lots of organisations that offer free mentor-for-hire programs. It’s worth checking out. And for most, it’s not FREE! So, you might want to take that into consideration. I honestly believe that it would be a money well spent.
“The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.” – Steven Spielberg
I think this question should be rephrased as why do you need a mentor? My answer, why not? In whatever you are doing in life, there is someone who has either done the same or something similar. Why reinvent the wheel when you can ask for guidance? I’m not saying that having a mentor is a straight cut to success. However, a mentor can help you make sense of what you already know. This will give you the leverage needed to take decisive action.
It’s okay if you want to go at it alone. A lot of people actually succeed without any form of mentoring. But why wouldn’t you want the tips and invaluable information that will help you achieve your goal?
Before you jump right into picking the first person that comes to your mind, you must first ask yourself, what do I need? What are the factors that I must consider before choosing a mentor?
What do you really want? To advance in your career, or someone to help groom your entrepreneurial skills? If you don’t know what you want, then you can’t have a successful mentorship. How else are you able to determine if you picked the right mentor?
The whole essence of a mentor-mentee relationship is for you to learn from the person’s experience and skills. He need not be perfect, I mean, nobody is. But it is essential that whoever you pick to be your mentor should possess the necessary skills and knowledge in that particular field.
For a successful and sustainable mentoring relationship, it must be a two-way street. As you learn from the mentor, the mentor should also be able to learn a few things from you. It is a give and take relationship. I’m sure the first thing that comes to your mind is, how will he/she learn from me when I don’t have the experience? You can add value to their life maybe through business contacts/connections you develop. You could also be bringing a new perspective to an idea or skill. Everything is not cut and dried; there has to be a way for you to contribute as well.
I think that before you can entertain the idea of picking someone as a mentor, you must have some level of respect for the person. You can’t learn from someone you do not respect. At this point, I should state that it is wrong for anyone to think that a mentor must be someone older than you. Not really. What you are after is the quality of experience in the particular field that the person has. He/She must have been doing whatever it is for a long enough period to have gained enough experience. Age has nothing to do with it.
The mentor must be able to challenge you, throw new perspectives at you. You should be able to bounce ideas back and forth with your mentor, broaden your horizon and learn something new. This, to me, is one of the key foundations of mentorship.
The answers to these questions should help you determine the right person for the job. It is also important to choose someone who will be open and honest with you. You don’t need anybody who sugarcoats the truth, or who is afraid to hurt you. Also, pick a good listener.
Not necessarily. There are people willing to do it for free especially where it is not a formal mentorship program. However, you may need to pay when it is a professional mentor, coach, or consultant. These people usually have fixed fees. To hire them, you have to bear in mind that you can only play by their rules. Disabuse your mind from the notion of – “well, I better get my money’s worth“. It won’t work out that way. It has to be about the results that the person can help you achieve and how that will impact on your life and your business.
Successful business leaders always leave breadcrumbs along the way, why not follow them? It is better and beneficial to take advice from someone who’s been there and done that, and has succeeded in it. It is also equally good to learn from someone who has also failed in that particular field. That way, you learn how not to do it.
Have you ever had to hire a mentor? Is it something you will consider? Let me know in the comment section below.
PS: I have to apologise for the inconsistency of late. It has also taken me by surprise. I promise to do better!