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5 Ways in Which Freelance Mentors Helped My Career

Small Business Mentor
June 5, 2014
| Articles

Starting out as a freelance professional can be very daunting, especially if you don’t know anyone in your immediate circle embarking on such an endeavor. People tend to think that they have to reach the top without accepting the help of others.

“A mentor is a more experienced freelancer or other professional who you can turn to for guidance and how can answer your questions about freelancing. Although there are many benefits to working with a mentor, surprising few freelancers choose to work with mentors.” – Freelance Folder
As a freelancer I’ve realized that finding a mentor for my freelance career is crucial. Allow me to share with you how having a mentor within your industry can help grow your freelance business.

A Source of Inspiration

First of all, a mentor is someone that has achieved more in the particular field than you have. It is someone that you can look up to and view as ‘proof’ that it is possible to reach your goals or dreams. Personally I draw inspiration from my mentors and view their body of work as something that I aspire to.
Connecting with one of these industry idols will not only inspire you, but it will give you a confidence boost since they are willing to sacrifice their time in order to give you some guidance.

A guide to Relevant Sources

One of the biggest benefits of interacting with an online mentor is being connected with the right people, places and sources. Sometimes it might take hours and hours to find the right website or article, these mentors have already gone through those ‘hours’ and they can just point you directly to what you are looking for.
Freelance Folder further explains that: Your mentor likely has a broader base of connections since they have been in business longer. For that reason, your mentor can introduce you to or point you towards individuals who can really help you grow your business.
When referring to sources, this could also include the most popular or credible job search portal or even a referral to someone within the industry that you wouldn’t have been able to contact independently.

Cautionary Tales and Tips

Your freelance mentor will most definitely tell you that they’ve failed numerous times before reaching the success they are experiencing now. Learn from their mistake instead of assuming that you have to make them yourself.
The more mentors, the merrier. Trust their guidance and tales of caution just as much as you would their tips and guidance. Industry mentors have the bigger picture in  mind and that will allow you to get a glimpse of the process or routine that goes into managing a successful freelance company or entrepreneurial concept.

Constructive Criticism

Having a stranger criticize your work is one of the biggest gifts you can get. Firstly, it’s not a friend or family member that feels obliged to give you compliments and praise. These mentors are aimed at helping your business grow and if you contact them with this request, they will most likely give you their honest opinion.
Of course it’s not always fun to hear that your vision or mission will fail, but if you take away the offense and focus on the objective opinion, it is very possible that the mentor, with more experience, might be right. You don’t always have to change your idea completely, but try to include what the professionals are saying in order to build a better brand or product.

Freelance Companionship

“A mentor is like a trusted colleague to discuss problems and find solutions. When you hire a mentor, you gain a confidant, someone to brainstorm with – a great sounding board.” – W2W
One of the negatives of embarking on your freelance journey is that you will most probably go through times of feeling isolated. Even though you have the freedom of establishing your own work hours and determine your own rate, you sometimes miss the companionship of work colleagues.
Building a relationship with each mentor can provide you with that feeling of companionship in the workplace. You don’t always have to inquire about particulars with your mentor, but you can just ask how their day or week has been. We are all human and sometimes we just want to know that someone out there acknowledges us.
Image Credit: 123rf.com

By Anneke Steenkamp
Categories: Articles
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