Mentoring relationships can change the arc of your career and change your life. How do you find the RIGHT mentors and turn one-time conversations into long-term collaboration and results?
That’s the focus of my conversation with Liz Nault as part of my mentorship interview series for Loyola University’s Quinlan School Of Business.
Liz said “I’ve always believed that if an opportunity presents itself you should take it… BUT (looking back) how many of those (past) opportunities did I create for myself?” That’s a great question for anybody to ask and answer. If you don’t reach out and ask then the answer will ALWAYS be “no”. Getting over a little fear of rejection goes a long way.
The good news? In the world of mentoring you’ll find that nine times out of ten people will be more receptive than you thought.
How Can You Reach Out?
Find somebody that you respect and admire and search for a common ground between the two of you. It might be something like “I’m reaching out because I noticed you’re working on a project similar to one that I’m working on and I’m inspired by your work. Can we set up a time to talk about what you’re working on?”
The take away here? Always share WHY you want to talk to someone. You have to be specific. Asking someone to “pick their brain” is the WRONG way to go. Start the conversation with a shared passion or purpose.
How Do You Get Results Instead Of Just Have Conversations?
After that first conversation you need to go DO something with the advice the other person shared. Then you need to follow up with more than an email sent for the sake of following up. You need to leave the door open with something of substance.
Find out what their passionate about in their career or volunteer life. Follow up by sharing articles about those subjects or suggesting interesting events in those purpose driven areas of your lives and other similar things.
Let’s not forget…
What Not To Do When You’re Building Mentoring Relationships
You DON’T need to try to impress someone. You don’t have to have world-changing plans to be interesting to a potential mentor.
You DO need to be authentic, be yourself and be real. Find the thing that’s authentically you and run with that. It might be starting your own business, it might be figuring out how to pick a major in college. Be YOU. Find people who will connect with you because of that, who will support you because of that and inspire you.
The take away here? The more you try to portray a persona or someone that you think you SHOULD be, the further away you get from who you REALLY are and what you’re truly aspiring to be.
Authenticity Is The Key To Meaningful Mentoring Experiences!
If you “fake it ’till you make it” you’ll end up with a LOT of meaningless relationships. If you portray your life as perfect as part of that persona then nobody can help you. If everything’s perfect there’s no way to help.
If you’re stuck in your career then share that. AND share your unique gifts, those things that you’re great at and want to excel at. Share what you have to offer and then offer that to those people that are mentoring you and everyone else.
When you take the authenticity route you will have more meaningful mentoring relationships!