One of the most talked about components of success is: finding a great mentor. Well…while you’re looking for one be careful because all mentors are not created equal. Some are garbage. Believe me. I’ve had a few who were absolutely clueless. Thankfully, I realized that early, before any catastrophes occurred.
Is having a mentor a necessity?
Yes, IF you can find a great one. Gaining the experience, wisdom, and expertise of other successful people is a must and having a credible, knowledgeable mentor is one of the best ways to do that.
If you don’t have one and if you don’t know anyone personally who would be a great mentor for you, you are about to learn a 5 step process that will help you out. Before we get into the five steps, know this:
If you are looking for someone to show you how to start a business (like professional speaking), that is not mentoring. That’s called consulting or teaching and both of them cost money.
If you take someone’s class on entrepreneurship, professional speaking, or any other subject then there’s an excellent opportunity for you to get to know that person. Eventually, you may end up with him or her as your mentor. It works out like that for a lot of people.
FIVE STEPS FOR FINDING A MENTOR
1. Create a one or two sentence description of yourself.
The description should highlight who you are, what you do, and one thing that people find impressive about you. If you have worked on your personal brand statement, this is a perfect place to use it.
2. Explore your community, your local chamber of commerce, or the web to find a successful person that you admire.
This person could be a professional, a business owner, a professor, or anyone else you know to be successful. The world is a lot smaller thanks to technology so, you can have a mentor who doesn’t even live in your area.
3. Introduce yourself in person, via voicemail, email, LinkedIn, or any other social networking site, using this kind of phrase:
“Hi Mr./Ms. _________. My name is _________. I am [insert your description here]. I’ve admired your work for quite sometime. I’m looking for a mentor. You are probably extremely busy and might not have time to mentor anyone, but if you don’t mind, I would like to ask you 3 questions that would really help me out. Is that okay?”
If the person says, “no” then thank him or her and repeat the process with someone else. Be prepared to do this as many times as necessary to find a great mentor.
If the person says “yes” then ask your questions. Ask questions that will give you some insight into becoming more successful and give you a better idea of who your potential mentor is. Ask whatever questions you want to, but if you can’t think of any, I would suggest something along these lines (these are two of my Million-Dollar Networking Questions):
What advice would you give me if I wanted to be successful in your line of work?
What separates you from the competition? (What makes you different from every one else in your profession?)
Is it okay if I contact every once in a while to ask you a question or two about being successful in today’s world?
That last question is crucial. It opens the door for future communication.
After you get your answers thank them by sending a thank you note (hand-written would be cool).
5. Follow up to build a relationship.
“The fortune is in the follow-up.”
That is a popular saying in sales and networking and absolutely true. In a week or two contact your future mentor and thank him or her again for answering the questions. This time be helpful if you can. Send a link to a video or an article that he or she will find interesting. Or maybe you could send him or her some business or introduce the person to someone who would be good for him to know.
This step is important because it shows reciprocity. It shows that mentoring you will be worthwhile for your mentor as well. Most people looking for a mentor are only looking to take from the mentor, not give to the mentor. Not cool.
It’s not that your mentor wants something in exchange for mentoring you, but it’s a nice gesture on your part. It helps make the mentor more willing to give up his or her time. If you follow these steps you be well on your way to finding the right mentor for you.
Duncan Nugget® #233:
Instead of looking for a handout,
look for ways to help out.
1. Do you think it’s important to have a mentor on your journey to success? Why or why not?
2. What are 3-5 characteristics of great mentors? Why is it helpful for a mentor to have those characteristics?
3. If you were a mentor, what would you style be? Why would your style be effective?
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