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How I Found My Mentors and Why You Need to Find One Today!

Mentor – An experienced and trusted advisor (noun). To advise or train (verb).

I am new at this entrepreneurship thing. While starting and growing my own business invigorates me, there is still a lot I don’t know about my craft, business start up and platform building. Sometimes it feels like I don’t know so much more than I do about websites and marketing.

In addition to my lack of knowledge, I am also geographically challenged. I live in a very rural area, an hour from the nearest city and a plane ride from most business building conferences. While I love where I live and recognize that I can write from literally anywhere (I think the toilet is the only place I haven’t parked myself to compose a blog post or grant application), none of my friends are writers and my husband is in construction. To say that I feel isolated at times is a drastic understatement.

What is a girl like me to do to get advice and for cheerleading and commiseration? I found some wonderful mentors!

I think that the traditional picture of a mentor/mentee relationship is the one depicted above. An adult helping troubled youth find their path. My experience shows that mentorship can manifest itself in various forms.

You can have “virtual” mentors. These are great for locationally challenged people like me. These are experts in your field that produce content that trains you to better run your business, do your craft, market your product, etc. I consider Michael Hyatt, Ray Edwards, and Dave Ramsey to be three of my virtual mentors. For example, I am a member of Michael Hyatt’s Platform University. If you don’t know Michael Hyatt, check out the list of Forbes 50 Most Powerful Social Media Influencers, he’s on that list. As a member, I get access to videos that provide Michael’s method of running his own very successful business. He also critiques a website every month, providing tips to help me develop and improve my own website. I have never met him in person but he is truly a mentor to me.

I also have two somewhat more traditional mentors in the grants profession, Diane and Karen. I met Karen when she taught a session that the local United Way organization held. I met Diane through Twitter connections. Very different introductions, but great results! Both have not only taught me about the world of grant writing, but have expanded my network and provided business and volunteer opportunities to help grow my resume, my name recognition and my business.

As you can see from these examples, there are various mentoring options available today for any business situation. The key is to recognize the benefits of having a mentor and then actively searching for one. Don’t wait, the sooner you find a mentor, the sooner you can reap the benefits.

Speaking of benefits, here are the four reasons why you need to find a mentor today:

Support – Per the definition above, mentors provide advice and training support as you develop your skills. However, a good mentor also provide emotional support. When I was pursuing my Grant Professionals Certification, my mentor Diane (also a GPC), provided reassurance before the test that I would do great and was my shoulder to cry on after the four-hour multiple choice test when I thought I was doomed for failure.

Networking – Diane and Karen I have been introduced to publishers, association leaders, and clients. Platform University’s Master Classes have virtually introduced me to some of our country’s experts in leadership, marketing, and writing.

Collaboration – Karen and I have partnered on a response to a Request for Proposal. We found that our talents and experience compliment each other nicely and plan to do this again. Diane and I will be co-presenting a grant writing seminar this spring and I am now a proud member of her fantastic grant writing team (DH Leonard Consulting)!

Confidence – I am definitely sailing some uncharted waters. It seems like every day, I face a new challenge. I do not always feel prepared to address them. However, if I find myself in this situation, I can search Platform University’s Member Forum or Michael’s videos to find an answer. I can also email or call Diane or Karen to ask for advice. The information I gain from my mentors helps me approach these situations with confidence.

I just met Diane in person in November, after she had been my mentor for over six months. As I said, above, I have never met Michael Hyatt, although I hope to someday. While my mentors aren’t sitting at a table with me or looking over my shoulder, I feel that they provide as much value, support and friendship as the people you see in the United Way ads. I hope to someday make a difference in other professionals’ lives as these wonderful people have in mine.

Find a mentor today! You will be very glad you did!

Question: Do you have a mentor, or have you been one? Tell me about your experience!

Micki Vandeloo

About the Contributor: Micki Vandeloo

Micki has over 10 years of experience writing grants for both nonprofit and for-profit organizations.  Her grant writing projects have ranged from training grants to funding supporting supply chain development for a large OEM in the defense industry to a “green industry” grant that resulted in an award of over $2.5 million to support an equipment acquisition at one Illinois manufacturer.
Micki has over 20 years of experience working in manufacturing and consulting with leaders of manufacturing companies. Her Industrial Engineering degree and Masters in Business Administration have provided a sound technical foundation for her for-profit grant writing projects.
For the past two years, Micki has also been the contract grant writer for an organization that provides life and job skills training and independent living options for adults with developmental disabilities.  In this capacity, she has successfully written federal grants to support an Early Head Start program; state economic development grants to provide funding for the organization’s recycling program; and several foundation grants to support various projects to benefit the clientele.
Micki has done pro bono grant writing for a church in her parents’ community and fire department in the village where she lives. She has done other business writing projects for her clients including business plan development to support funding requests; ghost blog writing; and case study writing. She offers grant writing training courses to companies and local associations.
Micki has recently formed Lakeview Consulting to use her unique combination of creativity, technical expertise and writing skills to help both nonprofit and for-profit companies maximize their capacity to serve their clients and customers.
Micki graduated from the University of Illinois-Urbana with a BS in Industrial Engineering and from Webster University in St. Louis with a Master’s Degree in Business Administration. The Grant Professional Certification Institute (GPCI) recognized Micki as a Grant Professional Certified (GPC) in September of 2013.  She is the first Illinois-based GPC located south of the Chicago suburbs and only the seventh credentialed in the state of Illinois.

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