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National Mentoring Month: 5 Signs You Have Found the Perfect Mentor
  • 03 January 2017
  • Elvis Michael

National Mentoring Month: 5 Signs You Have Found the Perfect Mentor

Did you know that January is National Mentoring Month? This annual tradition was founded in 2002 by the Harvard School of Public Health, MENTOR, and the Corporation for National and Community Service. While National Mentoring Month was originally intended to promote youth mentoring, it is also the perfect time for you to learn from successful and experienced entrepreneurs in your field.

Mentors can be invaluable to small businesses. After all, it can be overwhelming to juggle dozens of responsibilities and roles at once. How much time could you save by following advice from someone who has already fought your battles? As finding the right mentor can be tricky, it is important for you to go into this search with a specific set of desired qualities in mind. Here are five signs that you have found the perfect mentor.

1. Your mentor never stops learning

Even experienced small business owners can learn something new every day. As such, you should be wary of any mentors who claim to know it all and show little interest in learning new things. In order to be successful leaders, employers should not close themselves off from new experiences and ideas. Being open-minded can bring about many opportunities, while isolating yourself in an echo chamber can be disastrous. Thus, your mentor should act as a student as well as a teacher in order to help you learn about new experiences.

2. Your mentor is an active listener

In addition to possessing a never-ending thirst for knowledge, an effective mentor should actively listen to you and try to understand your problems. Do not waste your time on a mentor who has no genuine interest in you or your success. Worthwhile mentors volunteer because they want to make a difference in someone else's life, and they are much more likely to give you the attention you deserve. Steer clear of would-be mentors that are only looking for a feather to place in their cap.

3. Your mentor is established

National Mentoring Month is also about helping you connect with the very best. One of the great benefits of participating in a mentorship program is being able to connect with a network that is larger than your own. An expansive and diverse network is a definite trademark of a successful entrepreneur. While a mentor should not be ruled out exclusively for insufficient connections, you should also question if this person is truly as experienced and well-qualified as he or she claims to be.

4. Your mentor knows your industry

Not all entrepreneurs are alike: Be sure to connect with someone who has already conquered similar challenges to those that you are currently facing. Identify your biggest struggles and search for someone who has some experience in this area. SCORE is an excellent resource for finding business mentors. You can also find these professionals by browsing social media, listening to podcasts, and participating in local business groups.

5. Your mentor is honest

While it may be tempting to gravitate toward a quick and easy ego boost, it is much more beneficial to open yourself up to constructive criticism. If you truly want to flourish, it is important for you to abstain from sugar-coating unpleasant truths and instead face the facts. Make the most of your mentor's expertise and learn how to improve your weaknesses and emphasize your strengths. The ideal guide will tell you what you need to hear, even if you do not want to hear it.

Finding an effective coach or mentor in time for National Mentoring Month can be easy when you have the right guidelines and resources. If your mentor has all of the above characteristics, you can feel confident that you can learn a great deal from him or her. Once you have achieved your goals, you can pay it forward and volunteer as a mentor yourself.

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