Everyone wants a great mentor. You’d be hard pressed to find a successful leader in the business world who got to where they are completely on their own. It makes sense – when someone has already been where we’re trying to go, they can provide enormous value by helping us find shortcuts, avoid pitfalls, and stay excited and motivated along the way.
There seems to be general agreement that finding mentors is a worthwhile pursuit – the real challenge comes in figuring out how to cultivate that elusive mentor-mentee relationship that many are seeking. Like anything worthwhile, finding these relationships requires patience and time. These three tips will help you navigate the process, and ensure that your efforts move you closer to finding the guidance and inspiration you’re looking for.
1. Get Clear on Your Goals
Before you begin seeking a mentor, make sure you’ve put thought into your goals and what you hope to gain from the mentorship. Having clear goals will make it easier for you to spot those around you who can help, and it will make them more likely to want to help you. Many people get excited about helping, but this usually happens when they’re being asked to help with a specific thing that they enjoy or are good at. The more specific you are about what you’re hoping to achieve, the more likely you are to find someone who wants to jump in and show you the ropes.
2. Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket
Rather than searching for a single mentor, get in the habit of searching for snippets of mentorship all around you. If you’re looking for that one person who can provide everything you need, you may miss valuable opportunities to grow and develop from those in your immediate vicinity. You don’t need to get everything from one person – in fact, the more you treat mentorship the way you’d treat networking, the faster you’ll be able to learn and find the guidance you need. Over time, some of these relationships will likely evolve organically into that deeper relationship that you are seeking.
3. Make Sure You Give and Take
Being mentored is a time commitment, and one of the best ways to show potential mentors that you are worth their time is by providing value to them before you ask them to do the same for you. Find out what they are working on, and figure out if there’s a way you can help – even in a small way. Offering help allows you to make a solid initial impression and is a great way to quickly build rapport and trust. If you do get the chance to help them, you’ll benefit from getting a deeper look into their own professional endeavors and will have a shared experience with them right from the start.