Most people I’ve talked to would love to have a “mentor” but don’t have one and don’t know where to begin to find one. Here’s a simple way to do that.
Let’s start with…
STUDENT KNOW THY SELF
Before you even consider looking for a mentor you need to know (exactly) WHY you want a mentor. I recently discussed creating value driven relationships with Connie Dieken during an interview for SOBCon (check out the post here). That’s a great starting point for all kinds of relationships, including mentoring. For another quick exercise (as in you can do it now) you can….
- Pick a recurring problem or challenge that seems to keep popping up in your life. What aren’t you good at? This could be interviewing for jobs, getting more clients through cold calling, dealing with stress or anything else you’re going through. But pick just ONE.
- Write out what you think you need to solve that problem. It could be expert advice, support through hard times or connections to people you haven’t met yet.
- Pick one more problem. Repeat the first two steps.
Look at what you just wrote. Those are your targets.
BUILD IT BEFORE YOU NEED IT
Now that you have your targets you need to create a community of people that 1) are facing similar challenges and 2) that have overcome similar challenges. Social media makes this much easier; you don’t have to have 20 coffee meetings to meet 20 people. You can have conversations on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn groups and other online platforms. But you will still need to have coffee with people or at least phone calls. Real connections mean connecting offline, not just friends or followers online.
You’ve probably seen a lack of building before you need it at networking events. It’s that person that didn’t bother to network before they lost their job. Now almost every conversation involves handing a resume (or emailing it) to someone they just met asking for someone to hire them. If you don’t know someone how willing are you to make that leap and get them a job?
You’ve probably also seen successful relationship and mentoring opportunities in action. It’s that person that keeps conversations alive on Twitter, attends networking events regularly and doesn’t ask for much (if anything at all) until he gets to know someone. When he needs something his network jumps into action with advice, support and connections.
What does this mean to you?
HELP IS JUST A CONVERSATION AWAY. IF YOU ASK.
Think about most business networking conversations. What do you talk about? Probably what you do and who your “ideal client”” is or what your “ideal job” is. Most conversations end there. Go one step further if you’re looking for a mentor. Talk about what you do and what you’re looking for of course. Then change the conversation and by adding:
“That’s what my day job is. But what I’m really looking for right now is someone who can help with (__insert your problem here___) by offering (__insert your possible solutions here___). Do you know anyone like that?”
I stumbled across this a couple years ago. It wasn’t originally planned, I was venting to a friend about not being able to scale my business, doing too much myself and not being able to find people to delegate tasks too. Ugh.
My friend followed up with “I know a serial entrepreneur who works with people just like you. He helps people build and scale companies for a living and he’s always telling stories about helping people just like you. Let me introduce you to him.”
One introduction and a few mentoring conversations later (I didn’t pay for consulting, this was mentoring) I brought a new person on board and began delegating the things I hate to do (but that the other person loved to do).
What’s the point here?
NOW IS A GOOD TIME TO START
To get help tomorrow you need to start today. To find a mentor you need to know who you’re looking for and why. We just went through a process that you can put into action with a phone call, at your next meeting or the next time you go online.
Who will YOU reach out to TODAY?