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There are so many unknowns in front of you that you might feel like a blind person in a maze, grasping at little ideas here and there in order to get help. Additional Article Information: =============================== 1667 Words; formatted to 65 Characters per Line Distribution Date and Time: Thu Feb 9 00:56:06 EST 2006 Written By: Theresa Gabriel Copyright: 2006 Contact Email: mailto:[EMAIL PROTECTED] Article URL: http://thePhantomWriters.com/free_content/d/g/finding-a-mentor.shtml For more free-reprint articles by this Author, please visit: http://thePhantomWriters.com/free_content/d/index.shtml#Theresa_Gabriel --------------------------------------------------------------------- Help When you Need it: Finding a Mentor Copyright © 2006 Theresa Gabriel Expert Guide and Personal Coach http://www.womensummit.com/ When I started my business I was like most people starting out on a new endeavor, feeling like a fish out of water. There are so many unknowns in front of you that you might feel like a blind person in a maze, grasping at little ideas here and there in order to get help. Where Are They? Creating a support system is a learning process that will develop over time. I've found it isn't a list of concrete, rational, or objective steps, but a way of looking at who is around me and how we are connected. I started by focusing on my heart's desire of helping women's wellness through nature which is also the focus of my business and then I began to find the right people. - Networking Organizations Don't pigeon-hole yourself by belonging only to one type of organization. Drop any organizations that thrive on 'busy work' and choose organizations that get you excited. I belong to two professional women's organizations and to two Chambers of Commerce, but I also belong to the Sierra Club. I am currently researching places to find 'walking for wellness' people who are LIKE ME! (Notice the excitement!) - Who is around you? Is someone already unofficially mentoring you? Is there someone really obvious right next to you? - Official Channels Try the Small Business Administration and SCORE (Senior Corp of Retired Executives.) - Experts Attend your chamber workshops and always be the last to leave, setting aside extra time in your schedule. When you get to talk personally with the expert, notice if they have enthusiasm for their own work. They will ask about your business and if you see sincere interest, don't just walk away! - Book Wisdom As a result of reading what I love to read, I've developed a half-way decent understanding of Jung's shadow and personality theories. As a result, I've had several enjoyable and enlightening conversations with people who share my interest. My reading and subsequent discussions have increased my knowledge of Jungian psychoanalysis and have taught me market research methods and has given me an understanding of why women's wellness is a real concern. - Unsolicited Support Notice offers of help from reputable sources and take them up on it. I've seen such offers in the epilogue of the business book, "Good to Great." I've had a speaker tell me face-to-face that I could call if I had a question. I've had a private business person offer to review my website. To not follow up on such opportunities would be an unforgivable shame. - Competitors It took me a long time to build the courage to contact a major competitor, but she has given me the best advice I've ever received. Successful people expect such inquiries. Let them determine the amount of time to devote to you. - Friends Certain friends can be important mentors / brainstorm partners / spiritual supporters. I make a point to keep in touch on a regular basis, usually at a "Panera Pow-wow." (10 years ago this would have been a "Village Inn Visit.") A woman at a conference asked the speaker a question relating to her business, and I knew I needed to meet her. We have been providing mutual support for two years now. We get together with no agenda, and after an hour have solved several of each of our business problems. - Outside the Box I read an article written by Kevin J. Wright, and noticed we shared several interests. I looked him up on the web and saw that he lives in Denver near where I would be visiting in a month so I contacted him and asked for a meeting. I'll tell you more about our great lunch meeting later in this article. - Notice Who Won't Help You. Some people may be very interesting, but are not mentor material. -------- Avoid those who can't give criticism. I write-off those who's response to my questions are designed to avoid conflict. Look for those who can be up-front and honest like Carol Blood from www.urpr.biz who I know from civic functions. She gave me some solid advice at Panera's! --------Avoid those who lack enthusiasm about your project like a long-time friend of my parents who owns a successful business. He agreed to be available for questions but never showed enthusiasm regarding my project. Getting to Know Them - Meeting New People Think 'relationship,' not 'networking.' The networking rule is to speak with each person for only three minutes, exchange information, and move on to the next. How fake is that? When you find someone that you click with and are enjoying why not hang around a bit? - Running into Newer Acquaintances These conversations should have substance. Talk about real subjects that spark interest in your conversation partner, even if they are unconventional, because your goal is to develop a relationship. Some topics that I can easily dwell on if they come up are Jung, secret travel destinations and historical novels. Of course I only pursue topics that the other person will also enjoy and gain something from. - One Minute With an Expert If you are able to speak with an expert while networking after a speaker's event and they show enthusiasm about your project, tell them about a challenge that is related to their own area of expertise and how you think you might try to solve that challenge. Then ask for their opinion. "What do you think?" followed by a patient pause can work wonders. Listen to what they say. Exchange cards. Watch their non-verbal cues to know when to end the conversation. Afterwards, when reviewing your networking notes, consider how the relationship went and if you can pursue it further. Taking the Step to Ask Consider developing relationships further. Look for those who can challenge you, whether they are an expert or a peer. Suggest a meeting at a coffee shop if possible. Let them decide the location, time and the duration of the meeting. If you get them away from their office you can usually increase the usual ½ hr meeting to an hour. Avoid email meetings because they eliminate the possibility for brainstorming and creative discussions. Be attentive and notice if they would like to help but are obviously too busy to meet with you. In such cases I have done the following: - Do you have time now? We could go to the coffee shop down the street or just sit here for 15 minutes if you have time. - Could you look at my website and tell me . . . ? I could take your card and email you a reminder. - Can we make an appointment to talk on the phone for a half hour? I will email you tomorrow with my available times next week and you can choose a time. You will call them if it's long distance. Whether you end up with a Panera Pow-wow or with a mentoring meeting with an expert, you'll be left with plenty to chew on. The Perfect Mentoring Session - Sit down, listen, and be willing to hear the hard truth. When they say something hard to hear, be ready to spend time with it and consider it, making real changes. - Ask pre-planned specific open-ended questions. Don't just ask 'why.' Instead, try "What have I missed?" or "What's the biggest error people usually make when they're in my position?" - When you ask a question, make it short then shut up and wait. Don't start talking again just because you're nervous or impatient. Building a relationship is an investment of time, so devote all of your attention to this chance to connect. - Don't waste their time by complaining, bragging or rambling. Keep on point and keep your mind sharp. Be an active listener, asking for clarification. Repeat back to them what they've said so that you're sure you understood it. Take notes without being self-conscious about it. It shows your mentor that you are serious. - Make an effort to offer them whatever help that they could benefit from your experience and knowledge as well. This transforms your meeting from a lecture into an intelligent conversation. When I took the writer, Kevin J. Wright to lunch, he told me about his soon-to-be-released book. I shared an observation based upon my experience. He immediately latched onto an additional marketing strategy for his book release. - Keep to any time limit they have specified. If it's been an hour, acknowledge that you know they have a busy schedule to give them a chance to leave. My conversation with Kevin over pizza was so riveting that I couldn't bring myself to break our connection and look at my watch. We were kindred spirits. When I finally looked and announced the time to him, he frantically realized that he was late for a meeting. I rushed him back to his office without slowing him down with any superfluous words. We did agree, however, that our conversation was worth missing work over. - If you've done a good job you will be tired at the end of your meeting. Immediately take an additional hour to review what was covered, and to let it sink in. Relaxing and letting it settle will help you really learn what you've heard. - Follow up with a hand-written 'Thank You' when they take time out of their schedule for you. I usually add a line asking for a small bit of further assistance. For example, after I got help with my web site, I asked the helpful mentors to look at my site after making changes, for further input. Have You Noticed? You have been reading free advice that I've written down for you. Hint, hint. I am enthusiastic about mentoring and care about people who need help. Hint, hint. If you have already considered contacting me for further guidance, then you get an A. --------------------------------------------------------------------- ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Women Summit LLC - Life Discovery Tours - Women's Retreats ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Paths began to beckon Theresa when she was 12, visiting the Bridger Wilderness in Wyoming. Walking, dancing, and movement are a part of her, nourished by John Denver's musical challenge for her to "fly." She has walked up mountains and through forests in Wyoming, Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. She's lived in Germany and has traveled extensively in Europe, even leading a pilgrimage. Her recent walks in the Grand Canyon and Alaska inspired her to begin her dream business of "walking with women." Learn more about Theresa Gabriel and her Life Discovery Tours at her web site. 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