Cultivating Your Tribe: PEERS + MENTORSHIP
This is the third article in a three-part series on cultivating your tribe.
Entrepreneurship can be a lonely road-- especially at first. It could take years to make your first hire, and even then, depending on that hire, their role, and your relationship, that person might not be someone that you choose to confide in, or seek counsel from. That’s why you have to build your tribe.
I’ve found that no tribe is complete without friends and family, peers, a general network of like-minded individuals, and mentors/mentees. These buckets of people tend to overlap, cross-over, and sometimes the same people can fill multiple or even all roles. In this four-part series, we’ll explore how to fill each of these roles, how to balance your sphere of influence and how to make sure your tribe is suited to your needs.
In our globalized world it’s never been easier to find a group of people that you can relate to. Whether resource groups, or chats/forums, the internet will allow you to find your people no matter what the time zone. When we're in school they’re our classmates, in business they're our colleagues, in parenthood, the parents of our children's’ friends. Whatever group you decide to ascribe yourself to, there's others there to share their experiences and help you along the way.
Peers round-out a tribe because:
1. They’ve likely been where you’ve been or vice versa
2. You bring value to that relationship because of your own experience
3. They’re a brilliant testing ground for new ideas
My mentors have been some of the most formative characters in my life. Their official capacities have varied greatly from family members, to co-workers, to random people I met within my network. They're my first defense when career and business become confusing, when I'm struggling to make a decision, or when I need a quick pick-me-up. My mentors have been so effective for me, I spend a lot of time trying to pay it forward, by serving as a mentor to young entrepreneurs. Sometimes it's my mentees, that teach me the greatest lessons.
Top Pointers for Developing Mentor/Mentee Relationships:
1. Accountability works both ways-- a mentor asking a mentee to hold THEM accountable to their own goals gives them a glimpse into your working life and elevates them.
2. Mentors: Create structure in the relationship by understanding how you can truly help your mentee. Don’t try to be the hero. You might connect your mentee to some contacts if you feel appropriate, you might even hire them, but as a mentor, it's not your job to save them.
3. Mentees:Find someone with truly relevant experience. What gaps are you looking to fill in your tribe? What's a lesson you really need to learn from someone who's path contains similar parallels? Start there.