Mentors are an invaluable resource -- both in business and in life. Yet, it can be hard to know how to begin that relationship, and how to foster it. The tips below should help.
1. Be useful to them, too.
The Entrepreneur Richard Rosenblatt, CEO of WhipClip, former founder of Demand Media, Intermix
The Mentor Gordon Crawford, media investor
“A mutual friend introduced us, and so I went to his office and pitched him on my company at the time, Intermix. Gordy was an expert in media, but not tech and internet media, so I brought him up to speed and introduced him to dozens of important entrepreneurs. We became friends -- and because he was more experienced building startups, I turned to him when I faced challenges and needed advice.”
2. Don’t pick the obvious choice.
The Entrepreneur Jeff Kushmerek, VP of professional services at Virgin Pulse
The Mentor Diane Gordon, SVP of customer care at Brainshark
“Many people seek out the most successful person they can -- but that’s a mistake. The best mentors are not loud, outspoken and quote-ready. They’re those who gain respect among peers -- because if they’ve helped others, they might just help you. That’s how I connected with Diane: We used to work together, and I admired how she made others feel comfortable.”
3. Make it natural.
The Entrepreneur Jen Mojo, founder of Paper Dolls
The Mentor JB Williams, marketing for Docusign, Microsoft, Starbucks
“We had a joint project, and I was as vested in his success as he was in mine. During that time, he became a trusted sounding board and was always asking me to be clear about what I wanted out of our individual conversations. There was no feeling of hierarchy or talk of an actual mentorship. We built the relationship naturally and unofficially.”