So, you’ve been thinking of trying to connect with a mentor – congratulations! It’s a very wise step for you and your business.
First, let’s talk about what a mentor is. A mentor is someone you have a long-term relationship with, and there’s a very special focus: to support your business (and sometimes personal) growth and development. Your mentor is your go-to person for wisdom, lessons and support, but probably not someone who advises you on your day-to-day tasks.
A truly great mentor will challenge you to think differently and look at your business from a new perspective. She’s an advocate, a sounding board, and maybe even a confidante. What could be better?
So how do you find this mentor and get her interested in wanting to help you? Today I’m walking you through how to do just that, and more.
Let’s jump in!
1. Create a list of people you admire who also seem like a good fit for you.
You’ve probably been following your own favorite makers and shakers for a while now, right? The ones you look forward to hearing from in your inbox each week.
For your mentor, you may not want to start by approaching the biggest names in your industry. Instead, focus on people who are several steps ahead of where you are.
2. Observe how these people go about their business.
We all love to follow our favorite industry leaders’ blogs and social media accounts. This is a great way to get to know their personalities.
Now it’s time to think about who you might click with on a personal level. Remember, the best mentors are supportive, but also aren’t afraid to ask the tough questions and challenge you to reach beyond your goals. Ideally, your mentor should share her experiences and help you spot new opportunities and a new way to approach things in your business.
At the same time, the best mentor probably won’t tell you exactly what to do. She’ll embrace role as an advisor and that it’s your company to run, not hers. Keep this in mind as you think about your potential mentor’s personality!
While there are probably lots of successful people in your industry, only a select few will truly align with your values and the way you see the world. Make it a priority to find a mentor who can truly get on board with your vision for your business. Be honest with yourself about whether her track record is similar to the one you’d want for yourself.
Think about her story. Where did she start? What did she start with? What has she become? While it’s not completely necessary, it can be amazing to link up with a mentor who has a similar story to your own – she’s most likely to understand where you’re coming from.
Finally, take a look at how she runs her business. Does she look like she’s happy and having fun? She might just be someone you’d love to learn from!
3. Start contacting them.
This can feel like the scary part! But it doesn’t have to be intimidating. Start out with a polite and formal email first and see how she responds. Whatever you do, don’t ask her to be your mentor right away! It might be helpful to reach out to several potential mentors at this point.
When you reach out to her in your emails, you’ll want to be prepared with a set of questions but also just let the conversation flow naturally. Explain who you are, what you do, and how you came to find her and her work.
4. Keep the conversation going.
Once you’ve created a connection and there’s interest from both sides, you can hopefully build a relationship over time. A good potential mentor should love to see your progress and take pride in knowing that her advice has helped you.
Send her a monthly email that reminds her of your past conversations and updates her on your progress and what’s going well with your business.
In each email, ask one new question to make sure the conversation continues. Be sure to keep these email check-ins brief and to the point. Don’t ask for too much at one time!
5. Ask the big question!
Once you’ve gotten to know each other and if it feels like a good fit, it’s time to ask the person to mentor you.
When you’re asking someone to be your mentor, you’ll want to be crystal-clear when it comes to how much of her time you’re going to need. In order for you to have a valuable relationship with your mentor you’ll need to make sure she has the proper time to devote to helping you. Because your mentor is someone super-successful who you admire, she’s going to be busy!
Start by explaining why you want her to be your mentor. You won’t want to go overboard with the compliments, but make sure you discuss which skills and career choices caught your attention (if you haven’t already) and why you’re asking her to mentor you.
Make it clear you’re not looking for her to do everything for you – instead, you’re excited to learn from her experiences.
6. Be committed.
Remember, it’s important that you be a good mentee, too! There will definitely be times when you’re feeling too busy or overwhelmed with life or business to set aside the time to check in.
You may encounter a day when you feel your mentor is being a little tough on you, or you simply don’t agree with her advice. But that’s all part of being a mentee!
Don’t give up when things start to get tough. You’ve both make a commitment to one another. Reach out to your mentor! You don’t always need to wait for your her to initiate contact. Stay open to constructive criticism and always ask for a feedback.
It might seem like someone so successful in your industry couldn’t possibly need your help. That’s not true at all! Find ways to help out your mentor.
You might offer to do some volunteer tasks or give advice on an area of expertise. Your mentor can bring you value with her advice and connections, but the best mentorships are two-way streets. If you’re simply learning from someone, then she’s a teacher, not a mentor. A mentor-mentee relationship has the added dimension of a give-and-take relationship.
Now it’s time to hear from you!
Have you ever reached out to a potential mentor? How did it go? If not, what’s holding you back from reaching out? I’d love to hear all about it below in the comments!
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