Why You Need a Business Mentor and How to Find One

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Never Eat Alone" by Keith Ferrazzi. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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What is the benefit of having a business mentor? And how do you go about finding one that’s right for you?

A business mentor is an experienced professional who is willing to support your career development. They can offer advice on the skills you need to develop to advance, introduce you to useful contacts, and offer insider information on the latest trends in your industry.

Read about the benefits of having a business mentor, and how to go about finding one that’s right for you.

What Is the Benefit of Having a Business Mentor?

A business mentor can provide many kinds of assistance, including:

  • Advice on the experience and skills you’ll need to advance your career. If your mentor works in the same field as you, they can give industry-specific tips. If not, they can still give you general advice and guidance—for example, about the transferable skills that you’ll need to progress in any field.
  • Specific help with one of the goals on your RAP. For example, if one of your goals is to improve your selling skills, and your mentor is a salesperson, they could tutor you.
  • Insider information on the latest developments in their industry. For example, they can tell you if it’s booming at the moment and thus a good field to move into.
  • Introductions to useful contacts in their network. For instance, if you’re searching for a job, they can introduce you to any recruiters that they know. 
  • Information about job openings at their company. If they’re influential, they may put in a good word for you with the hiring manager.
  • Emotional support if things go wrong. Your mentor will probably have faced various personal and professional struggles over the years, meaning they’ll be able to empathize and offer support if you face issues yourself. 
  • Inspiration. Knowing this successful person may inspire you to chase success yourself.

How to Find a Business Mentor

There are various ways to find a business mentor:

  • Through an official mentoring program at your workplace
  • By “unofficially” asking your manager or another high-level professional at your workplace to mentor you
  • By asking your parents or other older relatives if they can put you in contact with experienced professionals who would be willing to help you
  • By directly approaching business owners, store managers, and other prominent professionals who live in your area.

How to Give Back to Your Mentor

All professional relationships must be reciprocal—including mentor-mentee relationships. Here are three things you could “give back” to your business mentor to prevent your connection from becoming one-sided:

  1. Loyalty. Let your mentor know that if they ever need your support—for example, political support if they run for office or emotional support during a crisis—you’ll have their back. Follow up on your word, unless you want to gain a reputation for making promises that you don’t keep. 
  2. Hard work. If your mentor is someone from your workplace (for example, your manager), the best thing you can offer them is high-quality work that produces results for your company.
  3. Something material. For example, you could send your mentor a thank-you gift each time they help you. Alternatively, you could donate to a cause that they’re passionate about or a nonprofit they work with.
Why You Need a Business Mentor and How to Find One

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Darya Sinusoid

Darya’s love for reading started with fantasy novels (The LOTR trilogy is still her all-time-favorite). Growing up, however, she found herself transitioning to non-fiction, psychological, and self-help books. She has a degree in Psychology and a deep passion for the subject. She likes reading research-informed books that distill the workings of the human brain/mind/consciousness and thinking of ways to apply the insights to her own life. Some of her favorites include Thinking, Fast and Slow, How We Decide, and The Wisdom of the Enneagram.

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