Having noted the benefits and the need for a mentor in part two of this series, looking for a mentor that best fits your objective is critical to success. Who Is Your Mentor? Part 3 – How To Find A Mentor – will take your through the rudiments of looking for a mentor.
The blind can’t lead another blind person. This simple rule should apply in your search for a mentor – look for the evidence of results in the areas your area of interest. This should apply to every sphere of human endeavour – spiritual, career, physical, health, etc. To discover is to observe. In that area of life that you need a mentor, there’s an abundance of men and women who embody the story you desire in your own life. Write down a list of your desirables. This list could be as inclusive as containing the net worth of the individual, years of marital life, public recognition, awards won, inventions, innovative ventures, number of businesses, philanthropic initiatives, or moral values. The list’s contents depends on the individual concerned and the area in which he or she seeks mentoring.
The list becomes a guiding light in the final decision making for the mentee. The next step is to make a list of likely individuals whose lives would undergo scrutiny. Take an inventory of the professionals you admire. Involve others – friends, colleagues and family – in the discovery process. They can serve to provide the names of individuals who match your desires. In my case it was the bookseller with whom I had done business that mentioned the name of Steve Harris, having perceived that I needed a mentor whose business acumen would be beneficial to me in my desire to become a better businessman in the writing industry.
This observation phase leads to the reach-out phase. At this point, your findings are succinct enough to whittle down your prospective mentors to a sizeable list. At this point it is time to reach out to them. Reaching out can take many forms. This step can be very intimidating to many because it is fraught with uncertainty – a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ result. Successful people can be very busy, but the best of them can make time to mentor promising mentees.
Go out to where such an individual goes – a seminar, a church or business meeting, a mastermind hangout or a place that he or she goes to relax. Be brave and reach out to them and ask. The boldness exhibited by such a request can humble any mentor into acquiescence. Write them a letter or an email, stating your intentions clearly. Visit him or her in the office. Ask for a lunch meeting. Sadly, most people do a terrible job at the reach-out stage – they come off as desperate, awkward, and irritating. One good connecting point could be your stating what your results have been so far in life and why you need a mentor to up your game. State what you have done and your need to further advance your course. The mentor sees this as a worthy engagement.
A simple email or letter to your mentor can suffice. Below is an example of how to craft such a request:
My name is (insert your name). I have studied your life and exploits over time and based on suggestions from worthy individuals in your industry – (mention name of one) – I am getting in touch with you to request an informal meeting with you. I have been working for several years in the oil and gas sector and I am at the point of my life where I strongly desire to increase the results I am getting. I am interested in the research into bio-degradables, a cause which you are so invested in. I’m sure you’re very busy, but I was wondering if you would have lunch with me for just 30 minutes.
Your investment of your time in my life will be highly treasured.
Once the relationship has been initiated, be cautious of the kind of mentoring relationship that is devoid of service and tutelage; one that focuses on what the mentee can derive from the mentor with just minimal effort. Whatever the relationship you strike with your mentor, I shall x-ray here a few simple rules that you can apply.
In setting up a meeting with your mentor – lunch or coffee – be the one to pay. Don’t assume he’s richer. Doing so shows you’re ready to invest in what it takes to advance your course.
Avoid the flattery. Your mentor knows he or she is good, and constantly trying to reaffirm it could come off as a flattery. Always present good reasons to make working with you a remarkable experience for you both.
When you set times for your engagement, be sure to stick to the schedules. Your mentor, like many successful people, have competing priorities on his or her schedule. Don’t put off those schedules unnecessarily. Preparation is absolutely necessary.
Your mentor also has challenges in his work. Observe closely to see where you can contribute. Visit his website and see what may be out of place – icons, fonts, slowness of loading or typos. Find and buy applications that can further simplify his or her work. If he or she is the type whose work depends on mobile phone technology, sending recharge cards or data can be a contributory gesture towards success. If he is a voracious reader, buy him books or show him the kind of books that can aid his work.
Don’t stretch your familiarity too far. If your mentor is selling a product, buy it at the full price except he or she offers it to you at a discount. Attend his or her seminars and pay for them. Never ask to have access to such for free. That is belittling his or her intellectual offering, which is the basis for the trade-off between the two of you. Support his or her projects. Show up and volunteer if you can.
How you engage is very important. Don’t call only when you need something. That’s parasitic. The relationship can only blossom when it is symbiotic. Respect his or her privacy. Don’t see him on Facebook at midnight and start buzzing. This also relate to other forms of social media engagement.
Your mentor is a guide. Expecting him or her to break everything down to the minutest details is irresponsible and childish. Show your fortitude by stretching your thinking ability.
Your loyalty is paramount. In case he or she runs into stormy waters, show your loyalty by being compassionate.
Keep tabs on part four of this series next week as we look at how a mentor should engage with a mentee.