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Business Unplugged™
This blog features Carol Roth's tough love on business and entrepreneurship, as well as insights from Carol's community of contributors.

How Startups Can Create Mentoring Experiences

Written By: Mark J. Carter | Comments Off on How Startups Can Create Mentoring Experiences

Barbara Rozgonyi was reaching 400% of sales quotas as a corporate trainer when she woke up one Mother’s Day in a hotel room alone.

Barbara decided it was time to make a BIG change. After taking personality tests and getting feedback from other female entrepreneurs, she decided to strike out on her own.

In our interview we discuss the importance of getting advice, support and connections from mentors, and also how to find them to help with your entrepreneurship journey.

Without that support from her peers, Barbara doesn’t know if she would have had the motivation or the courage to go out on her own. That kind of support is why many entrepreneurs need to find and work with mentors.

One key piece of advice mentors can help with is giving a gut check on whether you really want to be an entrepreneur. How can you get that gut check?  By…

Finding Your First Mentor(s)

You probably don’t want to ask someone to be your mentor the first time you meet them. Do your research first. Read their blog if they have one, news articles about them, their book if they have one, etc. Find out what’s important to them and be prepared to talk about it during your conversation.

You don’t always need a person to be your formal mentor. You can create many mentoring EXPERIENCES vicariously by reading what people you admire write.

Sometimes, you might connect for one phone call or discuss your needs over a cup of coffee. Or, it might be a one- or two-time thing, so you will need to make the most of that time. That’s how your research leads to asking the right questions.

After you have a few conversations, you might develop a mentoring relationship. It’s better not to force it right away.

Connecting with Possible Mentors

One in-person way to connect is to find out where they’re speaking and introduce yourself during a break.

You also can reach out over email and mention the blog post you read about them, or how something in their book resonated with you and that’s why you’re reaching out. It’s not just because they’re successful.

Let them know it’s because they’re successful doing something that you want to do, and you believe you can learn from their experiences.

After that first connection, you need to create a foundation for an ongoing relationship. Two steps to take are:

  • Follow up and thank them! (You’d be surprised how often this is overlooked.)
  • Check in and let them know that you’re taking action and following up with results.

There are three ways to move past conversations and into action:

  1. Work for someone who has done what you want to do
  2. Volunteer for a person or company that is doing what you want to do
  3. Shadow someone for a day to find out what an entrepreneur’s life is REALLY like

Why Professionals Become Mentors

Many new startups ask, “Why do people offer to become mentors?” Here’s Barbara’s two cents: Early stage energy is infectious and exciting to be around. Family and friends might not understand you, you need to find the people that do – and the people who have walked in your shoes before are usually glad to be an inspiration because it’s very gratifying to see someone achieve their dream.

Article written by
Mark J. Carter creates MENTORING experiences that get MARKETING results through mentoring programs, interview content and events. He currently serves as Board President of Chicago Improv Productions, an Illinois nonprofit.