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How to Find a Business Mentor

by  Janet Behm  on  Friday, October 12, 2018

"It's the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen." - John Wooden

For those of you in the early stages in your career, this article might be worth more than many of the classes you took in college -- if you follow my advice on how to find a business mentor.

And, for those of you who are further along in your business career in Salt Lake County ... frankly, the advice still applies. I can't tell you how many lunches (or coffees) I've been to with ill-prepared, meandering partners. And while some of the specifics of the questions might change from what I suggest here, and from person to person, and over the years ... there simply isn't a better way to build relationships with someone who is busy and successful than what I suggest below. After all ... they gotta eat!

Go somewhere easy -- and YOU pay.

Nobody has time to meet you for a fancy meal in the middle of a busy work day. A cup of coffee works because you pay in advance. You don't want that awkward moment where you both wait for the bill to come, or to have the server interrupt you a dozen times.

And yes, you might be young and poor-ish. But if you've chosen your lunch partner properly, it's simply good manners to ante up the $20-$30 (or less) to pay for their meal. This signals your valuing of their time, and it will build up good will.

Ask questions the entire time.

You convened the meal -- so it is your turn to ask the questions, pick this person's brain, and get as much feedback as you possibly can on your topic. I highly suggest that you come loaded with questions, ready to fire out.

Oh and there's one thing about questions that you need to know...

Ask good questions.

Please don't ask for their "best tips or advice". That's horribly lame, and they won't know where to start. So make it a rule to not ask general questions, because you'll simply get vague responses that won't help you much.

So what are some good questions?

Well, that of course, does depend on your lunch mate, and your own goals for the time. But, for general-purpose networking, and learning the stories behind someone's success, here are some good places to start:

  • What did you do right after high school? What did you do after college? [You want to see what a successful person has done right after completing their studies. This will usually surprise you.]

  • What does an average day look like in your life? I wonder if there's time for video games?

  • Who else do you work with? [This way, you can find out the other players involved in making their team work.]

  • What would you do if...? [Then you present a specific scenario -- hopefully one that you're experiencing yourself.]

Don't talk about yourself, unless asked directly.

Or, as The Rock used to say: "Know your role and shut your mouth." This is your time to be all ears and become a sponge for information. Don't give your input on every single comment.

Do some research.

Don't walk in confused or clueless about what this person is all about. It's important that you take some time to do your research and figure out exactly what this person has been working on. This will score you some bonus points. It pays to be interested. People want to know that their work is being taken seriously.

I do hope this will save you some embarrassment, and, even, open some doors for you that will take your business to the next level.

Feel very free to forward this article to a Salt Lake County business associate or client you know who could benefit from our assistance -- or simply send them our way? While these particular articles usually relate to business strategy, as you know, we specialize in tax preparation and planning for families and business owners.

BE THE ROAR not the echo

Warmly,

 

Janet Behm

(801) 278-2700

Utah Real Estate Accountants

 

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