Let me explain by first clearing the air a little about online mentors and business coaches.
To me, at least, mentors and coaches are not the same thing. I realize, however, that these two terms are confused and used interchangeably online all the time.
I believe a mentor is a friend, a teacher, a supporter, and an advisor.
I believe a coach is a something different. To me, a coach is a private tutor or trainer, someone who is typically retained under contract to give one-on-one direction and specialized training fit to the needs of the client in order to get that client to a higher level of output or performance. A coach is also a motivator and a cheerleader that sees the client/coach progress as a team effort.
Certainly, I acknowledge that there is some cross-over in the roles and functions of mentors and coaches.
Why does all this matter? Let me explain my thinking here.
If you want to hire someone to help you individually in your business, IMO, you should go out into the marketplace specifically looking for a successful business owner that does paid coaching.
If you ask most successful business owners to be your mentor they will almost always turn you down. They will worry that if they become an "official" mentor -
- it will become a major time drain for them - time away from their own business effort
- they may not be able to provide you with what you really need
- they will let you down when they can't constantly hold your hand
- you are just one more "iron in the fire" that complicates their business day and worries their mind
- named association with you may not be in their best interest
- they may not appreciate your valued time by being themselves lazy, unteachable, or unwilling to follow the advise that you are genuinely giving - in essence, they are a waste of your time.
So if you want a mentor (a teacher or advisor), here is what I suggest:
- Befriend a wise and successful business owner but don't abuse your relationship by expecting hand-holding, specific time commitments, or special "preferred" status of any kind
- Be willing to observe how your mentor does his business without personally taking up his time. Watch and learn how he executes his business, dissect his selling system, his lead generating activities, his funnels, his web site, his email list, his newsletter, his follow-up, how he converts prospects into customers, etc. If you can, buy his product(s) and become his subscriber and see what he does for you, his customer. You can learn as much (maybe more) by watching him as you can by having him talk to you.
- Offer to help him in any way you can with no reciprocation needed (or expected) on his part
- Cultivate your relationship in various professional ways without being a stalker, a groupie, or like a clinging child under foot. Offer to give him time in your specialty, take him to lunch occasionally (if you are nearby), give him credit for your successes, support his business, help him to be successful if you.
- Very important: don't abuse your relationship or "expect" anything beyond friendship.
If you ask me to be your coach or mentor . . . I will say "No thanks - nothing personal, but I turn down all such requests." But I am happy to talk to friends about business, my own experiences, and what I believe are best practices, tools, and approaches in IM. I even try to help strangers when I can (I hope my posts here show that).
Is this post making sense? Contrasting views are certainly welcome.