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Me & My Mentor – how to get the most from a business coach or mentor

SmarterBizIdeas-MyMentorThis week the very first edition of Smarter Business Ideas – Australia’s newest & biggest business magazine by circulation – landed on my desk.  And it features a new section by Josephine Quilty called Me & My Mentor – which in my case really is about me and my mentee!  It’s an article about how I’ve worked with Lara Solomon to help her grow and diversify her business – which began with the award winning Mocks mobile phone socks business and has since expanded to include Social Rabbit, a new social media consulting business.

Smarter Business Ideas is a publishing partnership between Telstra and ACP Magazines, and is being distributed to  Telstra Business customers – giving it an instant circulation of 525,000+, more than twice that of all other Australian business titles combined.  Did I know the magazine was going to be that big when I was asked to share my story? Absolutely not.  But when a journalist contacts me asking for input to a story or feature I will always say yes.  If you need training on how to do this you might consider attending the new one-day workshop at the Sydney Writers’ Centre on PR and Media Releases that Get Results with Catriona Pollard.  I have no commercial interest in the Sydney Writers’ Centre but I have attended a number of their programs and they are always the perfect mix of practical advice and perfect tips to get you moving in the right direction.

Anyway, back to Me & Mentee… I’ve had a number of calls and emails from business owners since the article went to print asking if I am taking on any more mentoring and coaching clients this year.  The short answer is yes and if you’re interested in finding out more about that then drop me a line and I’d be happy to discuss your needs.  For anyone else considering entering into a mentoring or business coaching relationship, here are my top 5 tips for getting the most out of the process:

  1. Choose your mentor wisely.  Ensure their values are aligned to yours, that they understand where you’re coming from and that they know what success will mean to you individually.  Even the most highly acclaimed expert in your field will be unsuitable as a mentor if your values and drivers in life aren’t aligned.
  2. Try before you buy.  If possible, have an initial meeting to test the water first.  Ask for references or recommendations.  Remember you are the buyer and it’s your prerogative to be in the driver’s seat at this stage.
  3. Be clear about your expectations.  Communicate clearly your goals for the mentoring relationship, what commitment you’ll be seeking from your mentor and what has been successful and unsuccessful in previous mentoring relationships you’ve been in.  Are you looking for someone to tell you the what or the how?  Or both.  And will you want the why as well, or will you trust your mentor’s judgement (I know that I’m always one to ask why – and not all mentors appreciate my curiosity!)
  4.  Assess your progress.  Have regular feedback discussions with your mentor about what’s working for you both as well as any frustrations you may be experiencing.  If this seems difficult or uncomfortable, remember this is a business relationship and you’re the buyer: you’re absolutely within your rights to get what you’re paying for.  And if it’s not working, be prepared to terminate the mentoring relationship and seek a more suitable fit.
  5.  Don’t discount what you know about yourself.  Mentors are important and will bring to you a wealth of experience, but that doesn’t mean you should follow them blindly.  Sometimes the result of being elevated to mentor leads to an oversized ego: if your mentor tells you “follow my advice and everything will be easy”, don’t believe them for a second!  Be prepared to challenge their thinking; and consider the advice in your own personal context.  You will know your own capabilities much better than your mentor will: only you will know what you are personally capable of, whether your mentor’s advice is right for you, and whether the approach they have taken will also work for you.  So remember to listen to yourself as much as your mentor.

I hope this helps and if there’s another topic you’d like me to cover in a future blog, drop me a line and let me know… I’ll be happy to put it on the list!

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