Business is tough and we all need to do something different to stand out from the competition. But what do we do and where can we go for advice? Many business people have turned to mentors for support, or have themselves become mentors, to offer their knowledge and skills for the greater good.
The slogan “Be Someone Who Matters To Someone Who Matters” was used for this year’s National Mentoring Month and is a brilliant quote to define what a ‘mentor’ actually is. It also shows that mentoring is a two-way street, with you as a person seeking a mentor to support you; and in return to also use your own skills and knowledge to mentor someone else.
In large PLC companies, mentoring is standard practice. Each person is advised to seek out a mentor to guide them through their career within the organisation. If you work in a small company or are self-employed, this can be a far more daunting task. How do you actually go about finding a mentor? What key skills and attributes do you look for? How often should you meet and what will a mentor actually do for you? Do you need to pay them? These are just some of the questions asked but sadly it can be enough to scare a lot of people from pursuing a mentor.
Becoming a member of Bedfordshire BusinessWomen (BBW) can help you find a mentor or simply to receive advice and support via the monthly networking opportunities. BBW is a not-for-profit networking organisation that has been going for over 25 years and is specifically designed to provide a support network for women who live and / or work in Bedfordshire. There are monthly networking events, as well as online community forums, where these relationships can be formed in a nurturing environment.
A recent discussion posted via the BBW LinkedIn group highlighted the difference between coaching and mentoring; two disciplines often confused but clearly explained at http://www.cipd.co.uk/hr-resources/factsheets/coaching-mentoring.aspx#link_0.
BBW member and owner of Elizabeth Toogood: Your Critical Friend explains that finding a mentor can be difficult; it is like any recruitment project – somewhere out there is the correct person but you will only recognise them if you have a clear idea of what you are seeking. Elizabeth’s advice is that “…chemistry is massively important. Be sure you like and trust this person to share with them your innermost thoughts and expose your mistakes without feeling they will judge you. It is as intimate as taking your clothes off! Do expect to pay; I know no expense is a good one, but this gives you some equality in the relationship. It respects the mentor and it also allows you to feel free to give them a call and say “help, now please!” Fees can vary hugely – make sure that you get value for money and are not locked into a relationship that you cannot free yourself from.”
Finding the right mentor is important as there needs to be a personal as well as business chemistry to ensure the success of the mentoring relationship. Having the right mentor will allow you to bounce ideas off someone, work through strategy with them, or simply obtain an outsider’s opinion.
Elizabeth concludes: “I would not be without my mentor to help me learn from and celebrate successes and unpick areas where I am less happy. We are always learning”.
A great mentor will help take your career in the right direction. A great mentor will become a friend long after your career has progressed. A great mentor will help you grow, prosper and succeed.
If you want to take the next step in finding your own mentor, or maybe you would like to offer some of your time to mentor someone else, then why not join Bedfordshire BusinessWomen today?! Come along to our next event as a guest and meet the members – and find yourself a mentor.
For more information on upcoming events, to book as a guest or join, please visit: http://www.beds-businesswomen.org