I launched my career coaching practice in 2013 with the hope of changing the world for 20 and 30something job hunters.
It might sound like a lofty goal, but after going from a dead-end, $30k a year admin job to a counterterrorism management position for the Pentagon, I knew I could teach others to immediately network their ways into management and a higher salary like I did.
Albeit, starting my own business teaching clients how to find and land their dream jobs wasn’t exactly easy. And I’d be lying if I said that I was able to do it all alone.
In order to help others with their respective journeys, I first needed to change myself (in the best way).
So I began working with mentors.
I sought out successful people working in the same space that I wanted to break into, and made it my business to learn from the best.
What difference does having a mentor make? Studies have shown that mentors not only provide their protégés with integral career advice (and emotional support while they’re living through it), but also open doors within their industry for their mentees. President Obama endorses the power of mentoring. Legends like Winston Churchill, Bill Gates and even Elvis credit their success to having worked with a mentor.
Success in my industry relies on two focuses: Having stellar business acumen and having an abundant mindset—one that tells you your dreams are possible.
I have hired many mentors for my mindset, but it’s the mentors I’ve hired to learn how make money that made an even more powerful difference in my life.
At the end of the day, your mindset needs to manifest in the material world, right?
I met my business coach Vanessa Horn at a conference in Los Angeles, and over lunch she shared insights with me about how to make passive income by scaling my business online. It was clear the woman knew what she was talking about. She walked the walk.
I wanted her results… So I hired her.
After all, if you really want to change the world, you need to scale.
While working with Vanessa I launched my online job hunting program, which has helped thousands of job seekers all over the world land more job offers and increase their income.
Looking back on this decision, I realize there are many different types of mentors one may benefit from at different career stages.
Ready to find a mentor of your own? Let’s take a look at the different types of mentors you can work with.
The biggest difference between a mentor and a sponsor is that while mentors dole out valuable advice, sponsors make things happen in the workplace. They’re more action-oriented, constantly working to find you connections in your field and put you in front of the people who can directly help grow your business.
How do you identify a sponsor that can help make the most valuable connections for your specific career path? Vanessa suggests taking advantage of social platforms. “Social media has made it easier than ever to ‘peek,’ in on [a potential sponsor],” she says. “Do your due diligence to discover someone who may be a good fit.”
A paid mentor is someone who (you guessed it) asks a price in exchange for their mentorship. If you’ve never worked with a paid mentor before, you might experience some sticker shock (my first paid mentor charged a cool $10,000).
I’ve had countless paid mentors since I launched my coaching business, with pricing that ranges from $500 per hour to $3,000 per hour. My decision to invest in myself is directly related to my ability to serve clients powerfully.
In my personal experience with mentors, I’ve found that it is absolutely worth it to work with a paid mentor when working with this person is going to grow your business (and therefore, your bank account).
Just because you’re “getting the help for free” doesn’t mean that unpaid mentors are any less valuable. In fact, it’s important to note that mentoring isn’t just a one-way street. In the mentor / mentee relationship, there’s an obvious flow of benefits being given to the protégé as far as advice and guidance go — but mentors are also gaining advantages in this deal.
On the business side of things, if your mentor is able to make you an introduction to someone who could benefit from becoming a client of yours, it’s good for your mentor’s business as well as your own. On the personal side of the coin, it just feels good for a mentor to watch his or her protégé succeed. Not to mention, it shows firsthand that they’re owning it in the mentoring department.
No matter what type of mentor you choose to seek guidance from, the most important quality your mentor should possess is that they believe you can achieve whatever it is that you’re setting out to do. Most of the time, their belief comes from having been in your shoes at some point or another.
If not, you’re both wasting your time.
The best part about working with a mentor? Eventually, you gain enough knowledge to make the shift from student to teacher.
Every single time I help an aspiring coach launch and fill their practice with clients—or when job hunters come to my online programs and land job offers—they tell me it’s my guidance that helped them reach their lofty goals.
… But I know better. It’s not just me. I’m not alone.
I stand on the shoulders of giants. I invest in myself, and in doing so, I channel the brilliance of all my mentors as I serve.
They’re with me during every step.
This article first appeared in Forbes.