When you start communicating with possible mentees it’s important to have a clear idea of industry practices, rules, regs, and all of that insider information you’ve acquired during your career.
So, how can you be a better mentor to the people asking for your opinion? Here are some suggestions that’ll help you and your How Successful clients.
1. Don’t talk. Listen.
Indeed, you are the expert – the mentor – but if you start advising before you know why your client contacted you, you’re wasting your time and the mentee’s time.
Listen carefully. Take notes. Ask questions until you’re certain you understand the client’s needs.
What industry is the client in?
How many years has the client worked in that industry and for which companies?
What are your clients’ objectives? They may not be your objectives, and, in fact, you may be contacted by a savvy business owner who’s looking for a second (or third) opinion.
2. Stay current on best industry practices.
If the information you provide is out of date – from the last century – you aren’t being much help. Do you know what VoIP is? Do you know its business value? Do you understand the technology used in your industry?
3. Start expanding your Rolodex.
If you aren’t a copywriter, have a few telephone numbers in your Rolodex to refer clients. Graphic artists, videographers, post production houses, accountancies, attorneys – you won’t know what a How Successful client needs until you talk. Have resources that save your clients time (and money).
4. Put it in writing.
If you’re talking about routine industry matters, or general business practices, put that information in a short document so your clients don’t have to start taking notes. The more written resources you have, the more targeted your input can be because you’re focused on the client’s needs, not general information.
5. Create a useful bibliography for your clients.
Provide clients with an expansive reading list.
You won’t have time to answer all questions, or provide all the guidance a new client might need. However, point your mentees in the direction of some “must-reads” and let them learn it over time, and at a lower cost.
6. Create an accurate, detailed profile on How Successful.
Include an experiential resume, areas of expertise, references, availability and a rate if you plan to charge clients for your mentorship.
Don’t mislead prospects, and never make promises you can’t keep. Before becoming a How Successful mentor please read our Terms of Service. It is essential that you meet and exceed client expectations.
Also, add a nice photograph that captures your authority and expertise.
List professional awards and accolades, published works within your area of expertise, and of course, don’t forget to provide contact information for interested prospects to log a little telephone time to see if you’re the right fit.
7. Try a small test project.
A short-term test project prevents misunderstandings and misconceptions early in your engagement. If you aren’t the right mentor, both you and the prospect want to know early to avoid wasting time.
A small collaboration will demonstrate experience, authority, expertise, and your style. Does a client go through the company phone tree to reach you or does she have your cellphone number to reach you as needed?
8. Develop a statement of work.
A SOW is the best way to avoid misunderstandings.
Once you’ve discussed the client’s needs, develop a statement of work that describes, in detail, what actions you will take, mentor milestones, communication policies, other terms of service, and a simple, flexible schedule that satisfies the needs of your clients.
You know what works and what doesn’t. Help your mentees achieve success, but also be straightforward and honest with them. A bad idea – an expensive idea – doesn’t help you or your client. Give your clients more than they expect and encourage them to contact you for future advice.
Long-term mentorships create better understanding between teacher and student.
10. Ask your prospect what his or her expectations are.
Every prospect is different. Your first contact might be a recent grad trying to craft a stand-out resume and cover letter, and since you know what executives look for in that industry segment, you’re the perfect mentor to help develop the perfect resume.
Encourage questions early in the engagement to avoid costly mistakes in the future. If a prospect fails to ask questions, provide the information and ask the questions yourself:
1. What type of experience are you looking for?
2. How old should your mentor be?
3. Would prefer a man or a woman mentor?
4. Are both parties open to honest communication? You don’t do a client a service by avoiding hurt feelings. Honesty delivers the best outcomes.
5. When, and how frequently, do you and your client collaborate? You may not want to spend Saturday afternoon figuring out how to increase margins when the family is playing in the backyard.
6. Does your client expect information on contacts and referrals? Do you have this information available from approved sources?
7. When does the mentorship start and end? Is it calendar-based or achievement-based? As the mentor, you want to know.
Before you accept a new client to receive your advice, make sure your schedule permits time to devote to an up-and-comer. If you’re unavailable when that client contacts you, that client may switch to another mentor.
At How Successful, becoming a mentor is simple and risk free. You can control the flow of mentees by indicating your availability with a click so, when you have the time to help, you put out the OPEN sign.
Time is tight? “Sorry, We’re Closed.”
You have the experience. You have the authority in your industry. The movers and shakers look to you to lead industry initiatives. You know how to get the job done at the best price.
You’ve also learned a few things over the years that’ll help a newcomer move up the ladder of success faster.
Become a How Successful mentor and make a difference in the lives of those joining the ranks.
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In today's highly- competitive corporate landscape you need every advantage you can get to beat the competition to the finish line.
Many managers have plateaued and been passed over. Some have never had the opportunity to demonstrate authority and effectiveness. Whether you are graduating and starting your career, or you could use a little advice on a sticky business issue, a mentor may be your best option to deliver the best outcomes.
However, finding the right mentor - the one with the keys to your success - takes time to avoid wasting your money on another "get- rich- quick" guru who's going to tell you how to achieve WEALTH BEYOND YOUR WILDEST DREAMS!
The Internet is crawling with phonies - consultants, coaches, experts in nothing but rehashing the same stuff you see all over the Internet. Nothing new here, but you just spent $495 to find that out.
What Makes a Mentor Better?
A mentor must understand your strengths and limitations, your short goals and long- term objectives to get you from here... to there.
A mentor isn't a pitchman carnival barker screaming at you in a long- form sales letter on why you absolutely MUST hire her. Anyone who says you MUST hire them, you MUST read their book, or take their course, is shouting to hide the fact that it's all smoke and mirrors.
These con artists are crawling the Internet, fighting with each other to get you to sign up for an expensive newsletter you will never read.
A mentor knows you and you know him. You talk regularly, and the good mentors provide the right information you need based on real world experience.
What makes a mentor better? The course, the e- book on creating wealth, the newsletter that points you to penny stocks sure to soar, use a cookie cutter approach to success. One way to reach the top - the author's way, and it may not be the way you want things.
Find a mentor with experience in your niche.
If you are a retailer, you need a mentor who gets small business retail - from experience. You want someone who's run a restaurant or founded a consultancy and is considered an expert in her field.
If you are a real estate flipper, find someone (rich) who's been very successful buying, rehabbing, and flipping homes in neighborhoods close to colleges with lots of students who need a place to live. If you run a high- end clothing store, an expert with experience in oil and gas drilling won't have the advice you need to move more merchandise.
Find a mentor with similar values.
It's a long way to the top, but there are a lot of ways to get there.
During your initial discussions with a potential mentor, ask questions that reveal matters of character and integrity. If you are a straight shooter you don't want a "cut- corners" mentor. You want to work with someone who has the same values you have.
Pose hypotheticals to see how your mentor responds. Asks personal questions. Your ideal mentor has nothing to hide.
You may need fabrication expertise on this project, but marketing help with a completely different rollout.
You can hire a mentor for a simple task like "How do I ask for a raise?"; or a mentor experienced in commercial property development - including all zoning regs. That's who you want to talk to before investing in a strip mall on a busy road.
Determine your objectives and make them clear to a prospective mentor.
What is your most desired outcome? Growth? Client base stability? Improving company margins? Know what you don't know to find the mentor to help you learn the ropes.
Look at the mentors recommendations.
Anyone can call himself a mentor. That doesn't make it so. Ask for references and referrals to help you eliminate the pickpockets who tell you what you want to hear to keep you on the hook.
Of course, a mentor won't share the negative reviews - the projects that went haywire - so view a mentor's recommendations as "the best things previous clients can say about the mentor's performance. "Realize you are not seeing the whole picture - just the picture the mentor/consultant wants you to see.
You set the objectives, your mentor provides useful information to attain those objectives, whether it's finding a new job or starting a new company.
You set the bar. If your mentor fails to meet expectations, move on to someone who can actually help you.
A mentor can propel you up the ladder to success with the kind of information they don't teach in school. Find the ideal mentor. Don't rush the process. Interview prospects to find the ideal candidate to grow your business to profitability quickly.
How? The same way your mentor grew the same business to a chain of outlets in less than 10 years. That's the advice you want, that's the advice you need to succeed.
That's why mentors are better.
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For centuries, mentoring is how people learned. No schools. No degrees. Young entrepreneurs would apprentice with a mentor to learn the trade before going off to open a new shop in the next village.
It worked, and in-the-trenches knowledge passed from one generation to the next. Life is no longer so simple, and learning real-world skills takes time, even with a long list of degrees and certifications on that resume.
Today, employers need to get new hires up to speed faster. If the on-boarding of a new hire can be cut from six months to three months, that employee becomes an asset faster, maintaining productivity levels even in highly-specialized work sectors.
Employees entering the workforce want to see progress in what is, often, a highly-competitive business sphere. To gain traction faster on the career path, working with an experienced mentor accelerates learning and skill-building, giving entrants in the workplace a smoother ride to that next promotion.
Mentoring delivers benefits for both employer and employee when used properly, and at the right time in the career and business cycles.
Your Career Cycle
You may have graduated from a prestigious university with a magna cum laude after that degree, but when it comes to closing a big sale, there’s nothing like the real world to educate employees just starting down their individual career paths.
There are several key times during a career when a mentor will make the difference between success and mere survival. The first is when you begin your job search. A mentor can assess employment opportunities, “read between the lines,” identify issues in an employment contract, or teach the specific skills to land a specific job.
Hiring a mentor when you first start out may be difficult with lots of expenses and no job, but it just may be the smartest investment you ever make. A family friend, or favorite teacher, may volunteer to mentor you gratis, but you won’t be a number one priority for that pro bono mentor.
Hiring a mentor experienced in your business field provides access and attention to detail that a knowledgeable friend may not be able to provide.
Another period that often occurs in the career cycle is plateauing. You’ve been on the job for a while, and maybe you’ve even been passed over for a job upgrade. A mentor can guide you, motivate you, and help develop a plan for professional growth, from additional education to a new position with a new company where you can shine.
Finally, as more of us work longer, sometimes we fall behind on business practices, new technology, new ways of reaching out to prospects. If you have a few decades of business experience, but you aren’t sure how to set up a conference call, a mentor can quickly get you up-to-speed on the workings of the modern office.
Employers Maintain Productivity Using In-House Mentoring
Bringing on a new member of the team is usually an expensive proposition as that new hire learns operational procedures and where the paper clips are kept. It takes time to reach full productivity.
Many businesses – small and large – are using outside mentors to get new hires up to speed faster. This is especially true in industries with high turnover rates. If your business is hiring its third CFO in a year, having a staff mentor can maintain levels of productivity by showing that new CFO the ropes – the operations from the inside.
Many companies are turning to job shadowing to speed the on-boarding process, with great success. However, there’s a trade-off. The mentor – your employee – won’t be as productive because she’s now also mentoring a new co-worker.
A professional mentor can often discover means to shorten the learning curve, saving your business money. These outsiders – business professionals – bring a fresh set of eyes, innovative procedures, and industry best practices to your work place, while boosting productivity more quickly. This creates stable, reliable production capability – a critical factor in competitive markets.
In-house mentors can be hired as needed, lowering on-boarding costs. Professional business mentors also maintain extensive networks of professionals – one of whom may be your next Sales Manager. When your business hooks up with an industry-specific mentor, you have access to more options – more hiring options, and more administrative options to suit the current state of your business, and where you plan to be down the line.
Mentors Deliver Win-Wins
Whether you’re looking to move up to the next job level, or you need to lower recruitment and training costs, professional mentors deliver value to employee and employer, delivering a positive ROI, and the attention and motivation required to move up, or maintain productivity levels.
Using outsourced mentors saves your company money, as well, hiring mentors on an ad hoc basis – the right mentor for the latest member of your company team.
HowSuccessful provides a broad spectrum of highly-experienced, professional mentors who have “been there and done that.” Whether you’re just starting down your career path, or your company needs to bring in a new CTO and FAST – a mentor will speed up on-boarding, maintaining productivity levels, and a robust bottom line.
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