Mentors serve as very special navigators, steering mentees through the complexities of their chosen path and offering perspectives and connections that textbooks can’t provide. It’s why Golisano Institute faculty dedicate at least 40% of their time to mentoring students. In this blog, we explore why mentorship is crucial for success in business and life and share tips for finding a mentor that fits your goals.
Learn from Others’ Mistakes:
Mentorship provides a rare opportunity to learn from the trials and triumphs of others. A good mentor won’t be shy about sharing their hardships- and the patience and problem-solving it took to overcome them. By being exposed to the missteps and successes of your mentor, you can chart a more informed course for your own ventures.
Tip #1: Consider the types of challenges you’re currently encountering or the fears that are holding you back. When seeking out a mentor, ensure their professional history aligns with not only your areas of interest but also your potential pain points.
Get Out of Your Head:
A healthy mentor-mentee relationship will foster a safe space that is free of judgment. Although it can feel intimidating to speak about plans, beliefs, or fears out loud, a mentor’s job is to listen and offer perspective as a more experienced individual. Every meeting is an opportunity to share ideas, ask questions, refine concepts, and turn them into actionable plans in an encouraging environment.
Tip #2: Reflect on how a potential mentor made you feel after meeting with them. You’ll know you found the right fit if you feel heard.
Develop Your Skills:
Effective mentorship goes beyond the textbook to hone your skills and refine your talents. This goes for hard skills, like mastering business finance, and soft skills, such as communication, teamwork, and critical thinking. As you encounter new tasks and take on more responsibilities within the business world, your mentor will be there to guide you through challenges.
Tip #3: Identify areas you feel unsure of, along with strengths you’d like to enhance further. Being prepared with this information will allow your mentor to focus more easily on the outcomes you’d like to achieve with their guidance.
Your mentor’s network is your network. That’s why choosing an advisor with a positive reputation is crucial when looking for someone who can maximize your growth potential. From expanding your access to experienced business professionals, learning how to network, or landing job opportunities, mentors are resourceful guides who want to set you up for success.
Tip #4: Investigate your potential mentor’s circle of professional connections. You can start by reviewing their LinkedIn connections and go deeper by asking them to share meaningful relationships in their professional life. Take note of connections of interest and ask for an introduction when the time is right.
Master Receiving Feedback:
Learning to hear the hard stuff is crucial to growing personally and professionally. By building a relationship of trust, transparency, and non-judgment, mentors can be the perfect vehicle to provide candid yet caring feedback that encourages self-reflection. Whether it’s regarding the way you carry yourself in social situations or encouraging you to think bigger with a potential business idea, mentors are ultimately trying to help you reach your fullest potential.
Tip #5: Ask a potential mentor to share a time they had to provide difficult feedback to a colleague. Not only will you pick up tips on how (or how not) to provide feedback yourself, but you’ll also uncover if their communication style is constructive or concerning.
At Golisano Institute for Business & Entrepreneurship, we know that outstanding mentorship isn’t a one-way street or one-size-fits-all. We believe the types of mentoring relationships are as diverse as the individuals they guide. Whether you’re looking to forge a bond with one go-to business guru or create a wider mentorship network, it’s crucial for both mentors and mentees to show up prepared to commit time and effort towards individual growth. Start to build your network by getting acquainted with the esteemed educators, business professionals, and organizations that make up the community at Golisano Institute here.
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"The opportunity is out there. You just have to find it."
Tom Golisano, Founder