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Mentoring typically involves an experienced (and that often that means 'older') person taking someone more junior under their wing. While you might not have thought of it as such, you would have experienced mentoring from parents, teachers, sports coaches and managers.
But having a mentor when you're an adult is a little different. It usually involves forming a relationship with someone who's been successful in their career and/or at running a business. You can turn to them for advice, motivation or to bounce your thoughts and ideas off.
The biggest compliment you can give to someone who’s mentoring you is to actually action what they say.' - Janine Allis, Founder of Boost Juice and Retail Zoo
Some mentor-protégé relationships form 'organically'. They just 'happen'. Like making friends.
You might actively pursue a relationship with someone you respect in order to learn from them. Don't be shy. Who wouldn't want to be told that you respect and value their approach and their work?! No-one.
Some organisations have formal mentoring programs in place to match up junior and senior employees. Even if they don't, the HR people may be able to put you in touch with someone if you ask.
Often women in business find that a female mentor can offer great insights into challenges and solutions.
"Mentors are people that care enough about you and they believe in what it is that you’re trying to achieve, and they want to give you support and advice." - Dixie Crawford, Director of Source Nation
If you're self-employed, you might choose to contact someone you admire. Ask if they will meet you for coffee to give you some career advice, then see where things go from there.
Additionally, there are many organisations and hubs that connect those who wish to mentor with those seeking mentoring. Some people hire a business coach .
Like friendships, it's difficult to force a mentor-protégé relationship and it will quickly become apparent if things aren't working out. If you make the wrong choice of mentor or simply outgrow the mentor-protégé relationship, there's no shame in seeking out someone who's a better match for you. But it's one of the reasons formal mentorships offered in an education environment can make things smoother.
Having a good mentor can help you navigate the challenges of running your small business. Learn more about the value of mentorship and other small business skills with Women in Business, a fully subsidised online program from TAFE NSW.*
*Eligibility criteria apply