I often write about the value of having a knowledgeable and supportive mentor. But, how exactly do you find that mentor? There are a number of strategies. Although finding a coach in any field or industry is possible, I advise seeking a mentor with the following qualities to improve your chances!
First, seek out an individual who is seasoned and in the “downhill” of his or her career. What has he or she achieved? Financial success? Professional success? Identify possible mentors who have achieved what you hope to. Being a mentor can be an incredibly gratifying experience; watching someone else succeed is very appealing. Someone who is older and a little more settled in their career is likely to enjoy feeling good about giving back and contributing to your future success. If you already work in the field you’re inventing in, this could be as straightforward as reaching out to a senior executive.
If, however, you’re not part of the corporate world or not working in a relevant environment, there are still a number of ways to find a mentor. Go to tradeshows and get business cards. Go to the lectures offered; a lot of seasoned professionals are the speakers at workshops and presentations. These types of people tend to enjoy sharing knowledge. They’re not paid to be there; they’re there because they want to have a voice in the industry. Meet them afterwards!
Read trade magazines and take note of the authors. Who are they? E-mail the magazine for contact information, asking that you would like to get to know them better and have some questions. Reach out to your friends for referrals. Would they be willing to coach or mentor you? Also consider lecturers at nearby universities; I often lecture at local colleges and am totally willing to engage with curious students. Someone helped me when I was young and I enjoy giving back.
Make sure to be open and listen to the advice given. Keep the relationship going with periodic interactions and phone conversations, but don’t be a pest.
I recently read a great article in The Wall Street Journal that discussed the benefit of having multiple coaches and mentors. Instead of leaning on just one person for advice, have several with different strengths. I thought it was a great read.
Stephen Key is a successful award-winning inventor who has licensed
over 20 products in the past 30 years. Along with business partner
Andrew Krauss, Stephen runs inventRight,
a company dedicated to educating inventors about selling their ideas
and the skills needed to succeed. You can listen to the weekly radio show on inventing. Get In The News, list your invention to have media outlets find you for news stories.