A common question that entrepreneurs often ask is how to find a mentor to help them with their business. Budding entrepreneurs need someone they can call on for advice on day to day problems, sit down with to discuss the more arduous matters and so on.

A mentor is one who’s seasoned in the business you’re in; they have knowledge and experience in your particular area and an interest in helping you achieve your goals. But mentorship is also a two-way street. These are people who give support and advice to those in need, but there are limits on how much you can impose on them.

A mentor is generally someone who has a personal interest in you. Nowadays you can find mentors through social media, but the best kind of mentor is someone who you already know and wants you to succeed. Seek out someone near and dear; even a friend of a friend, then commence a formal relationship.

Choose a mentor who has experience in your specific business. Make sure that they can be useful to you (and not just a fancy title or a lot of money) before you drag them through your business woes.

Set your expectations accordingly. Keep in mind that a mentor is not going to solve all of your woes. They can be relied on for periodic counsel, but not to offer in-depth business advice (not unless they offer that).

Know what to bring your mentor. A mentor is meant to be a bigger-picture thinker and strategist. They help you keep yourself collected and provide you perspective and a sense of longevity for your business. If they’re open to questions and discussions, great - but Choose your questions wisely.

You can never assume that their time for you is infinite. Make a list of things you want to discuss and the problems you hope to solve with your mentor. Take notes and keep track of the time.

At times, your mentor may make an introduction or pass you a contact. It’s your duty to make it good and to convey the utmost respect. You need to understand that you are now responsible for this person’s reputation. So be responsible in all communications, prompt with your follow-ups and so on.

Mentors spend a lot of their time and effort in guiding and supporting you - all for free, as a favor, or even as a way to give back. Make sure you acknowledge this — by showing your gratitude.

Treat this key relationship with care and it will serve you well for years to come. And hopefully, you too will be in a position to mentor someone in the future—returning the favor will feel twice as good as receiving it!

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