There’s no “I” in team, as they say. This is no less true in the business world, despite what you might think. An endless stream of positive relationships, supportive structures, and productive cooperation keeps your business afloat–yes, even when you’re having a dispute with the guy down the hall. Building teams and good relationships is how your company functions and prospers.

And in your career, there is no relationship more important than the one between you and your professional mentor. If you cultivate this relationship properly, it will transcend any job. Your mentor will be a positive resource, assisting with everything between recommendations, networking, business ideas, sound life advice, and more. This is the kind of investment that has no price tag.

Be clear and upfront with them. Establish your goals right away. What do you want out of this relationship? What are you seeking? Once you have that squared away, tell your potential mentor so they know what they’re getting into. You want this to be a meaningful relationship? So do they. They have a schedule and a workload just like you do. They need to know if what you need help with is going to take a lot of effort or only a very little. Don’t hide this information from them.

Ask the right people. Be aware that your potential future mentors only have a limited amount of time and expertise. Make sure the people you ask for mentorship can handle what you’re requesting. If you want to increase your marketing skills and want a marketing mentor to help you, great! They’re more likely willing to help you. But if you want to learn how to learn how to build a website, and you want your technophobe mentor to help you, you’re wasting both of your time.

Be worthy of their mentorship. As much time as you’re investing in nurturing the relationship between you and your mentor, they’re investing that–and more–into you. They want to see you do well and hit your goals. Only ask a mentor for their time if you’re serious and willing to put in the amount of commitment required to see the job through. This seriousness also means you need to research your mentor thoroughly. How much time do you need? How much can they give you? Do they know how to help you? You need to know the answers to these questions.

Reciprocate. Like any other relationship, this is a two-way street. Your mentors have needs too. Always be looking for a way to reciprocate in return. Be ready to aid them in their endeavours and write them letters of recommendations. If they contact you, pick up the phone. Engage always in reciprocity. Don’t just shut off all lines of communication until you need something. This kind of behavior can sour even a great business relationship.

Ask more than one. Not all mentors will suit your needs. Even if one does, it’s unlikely they’ll be able to aid you in everything you need mentoring in. You should seek more than one mentor at a time. Not only does this mean you’re not piling everything on one person’s shoulders, but you’re also getting a series of diverse points of views. Seek mentors outside your department, in your networking groups, within your industry, and in your communities. With all these people together, you will develop a strong support structure that will aid you through life.

The benefits of having a mentor are numerous. Build and nurture these relationships. Look around you too! You may already have people acting as mentors in your business and social groups. Foster these friendships and always remember to be a team player.

If you want to read more tips about mentorship, feel free to check out our sources here:
http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/249950
http://www.forbes.com/sites/lisaquast/2014/01/06/finding-a-mentor-is-easier-than-you-think/
http://www.inc.com/guides/how-to-find-a-business-mentor.html

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