I was interviewed a few times this week about the launch of Females in Food, and particularly about the role of mentoring women. It made me think about how differently men and women put themselves forward. I also thought about how some people actively seek out mentors whilst others don’t. Since the launch of Females in Food this week, I have seen first hand, the difference in how some women leverage the support available to them whilst others are afraid. EIther way it’s all okay because we’re all different, kind of!

The difference between a mentor and coach

For those of you unsure about the difference between a mentor and a coach, this is how I’ve been taught to define it.

A mentor will give advice, whilst coaches tend to ask more questions and allow you to come up with the answers for yourself.

Both techniques are absolutely valuable and one might work better than the other at different times. For instance, when you are leading a team and looking for a sounding board for your decisions, a coach may be better suited. On the other hand, if you are growing a business and looking for direct feedback that will help you see the pitfalls before you make them, maybe a mentor is more suitable.

I have a mentor and he does ask questions but he will also encourage me to take a path based on his knowledge of me and my business. We have a two-way conversation and whilst I do the work, because it’s my business, his insights and suggestions allow me to play a bigger game. That is the precise reason I chose a mentor – to play a bigger game and to back myself

How do you choose a mentor?

Choosing a mentor can be difficult. But it can also be really easy and we just make it difficult by overthinking it by not knowing where to start. If you’re unsure, try these four steps to begin the process;

  1. Decide what type of person you want to mentor you;
  2. Look around for someone who has done what you want to do;
  3. If you don’t know someone, ask someone who does know someone and ask for an introduction and
  4. Prepare a short pitch to give your referrer, to speak confidently about you, on your behalf.

Approaching people can be incredibly intimidating. I know, I did it lots and lots of times before launching Females in Food. Even if it’s not profile building or business growth you are looking for, it is always nicer to share the journey with someone who has your back.

Read my interview in Smart Company to find out more.

Chelsea & the Females in Food Team

For journalists requiring further information on Females in Food or to pursue a story about any of its members, please contact media@femalesinfood.com