I’m passionate about mentoring. As a volunteer with SCORE, I’d better be…but my enthusiasm about helping other solopreneurs and small business owners is rooted in much more than my commitment to my local chapter of the non-profit organization. Mentoring is a way to deepen professional relationships. It’s a way to give a little extra – and get a lot in return. Here’s why I recommend that you make mentoring a part of your professional endeavors.
The Return on Mentoring
I’ll be honest, there’s some cost to mentoring; it takes a little time and often some creative scheduling, but there are some powerful benefits that I’ve found make it worthwhile.
In exchange for mentoring…
- You become more articulate and skilled at sharing your knowledge. There’s certainly value in that from a professional perspective when you’re meeting with prospective clients!
- You learn what you need to learn more about. On more than one occasion, I’ve sat down with someone and found I just didn’t know enough to answer a question or advise on a particular point that I really should have been more educated about. My mentoring role prompted me to find reliable resources and get myself up to speed. I helped myself at the same time I was helping my mentees.
- You earn trust and gain raving fans. Although you don’t get directly compensated in dollars and cents for mentoring, you lay a foundation of trust that can translate to more business for your business. Word of mouth remains a powerful way to expand brand awareness. Most people who have been mentored are extremely grateful and will sing your praises to others in the community. That can go a long, long way!
Afraid you don’t have enough time to mentor? Fear not! You can make mentoring more manageable by setting expectations up front. When, how often, how long, and via what channels (face-to-face, email, phone) you communicate should be driven by what works best for you and the person(s) you’re helping.
And whether you decide to participate in a structured mentoring program like SCORE’s or to find someone to mentor on your own, it’s important to realize that being a “mentor” doesn’t mean you’ll be doing someone’s work for them. You’ll provide guidance, honest feedback, and encouragement – and the rest is up to them!
Share your own experience with either mentoring or being mentored! How did it help you and your business?
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