Finding the Right Mentor to Advance Your BusinessRalph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau; Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan; Socrates and Plato. What do all these great successful people have in common? Each pair was part of a mentor/mentee relationship.

But you don’t have to be Thoreau or Dylan to reap enormous benefits from a mentor. In fact, no matter how talented or skilled you are, you can prosper from this unique relationship

Sheryl Sandberg, the extraordinarily accomplished COO of Facebook, has credited mentoring with helping advance her career. She believes in the practice so strongly, that she makes a habit of publicly encouraging women to cultivate mentors.

Here are a few helpful steps to find the right mentor to advance your business.

Step 1: Establish Your Goals

If you are going to ask for help to advance your business, it is important that you carefully reflect on how you would like your business to progress. What is your five-year plan and your ultimate goals? What steps do you plan on taking to achieve these goals? You should also identify any gaps in your skills or where your business is lacking most.

By establishing your goals and identifying your areas of weakness, you will know what kind of mentor you need to take you to the next level.

Step 2: Review Your Networks

Once you have examined your business goals, it is time to make a list potential mentors. Your best option is someone you have a pre-existing relationship with, whether it’s through school, the workplace, church or a civic group. Most of the people in a position to be high-value mentors are extremely busy, so it’s helpful to have a personal connection.

If no single candidate stands out, you can evaluate people with whom you have an online connection such as Facebook friends, LinkedIn connections, Twitter followers, etc.

Step 3: Word-of-Mouth Recommendations

If you are having trouble finding a suitable mentor, don’t be afraid to ask your friends, family members and colleagues for help. By tapping into the combined networks of all these people, you will dramatically widen your pool of potential mentors.

Moreover, a personal recommendation or introduction from a friend or colleague is a great way to be introduced to a prospective mentor.

Step 4: Assess a Mentor’s Qualities

What makes a successful mentor/mentee relationship? Most of the time it is chemistry and shared values. When you have finally narrowed down your list of candidates, make sure you find someone who possesses the qualities of a great mentor. These qualities should include integrity, passion for sharing knowledge, a willingness to listen, and a healthy network of contacts they can leverage on your behalf.

If your mentor has these qualities and your values align, you will be in the ideal position to learn and grow both personally and professionally.

The Bottom Line

The right mentor can play an invaluable role in helping grow your business. With solid research and perseverance, you will be able to connect with a mentor and embark on a unique journey that takes you to the next level and reaps immeasurable rewards.