No matter what industry you decide to enter, everyone can benefit from the wisdom and experience of someone’s who’s been in that line of work longer than you. Finding a mentor can mean having a supportive figure to lean on, to receive advice from, to ask questions in times of uncertainty. There are many advantages to asking someone to be your mentor. The process of doing so can be awkward, however, and worded incorrectly, can put a person in a corner. When looking for a mentor, here’s how to do so in a way that will foster an organic relationship that benefits the both of you:
Find someone you want to emulate.
Not only do you want to look for someone who has the job you want or is merely in the field you want to exceed in, but you want to find someone you like on a personal level. You’re picking a partner, in many ways, so you want that partner to be someone you work well with, and share similar strengths and values with.
Take some time to think through the potential mentors you’re considering. Shop around. Jeff Goins recommends having a few people in mind before committing to The One.
Do your research.
Find out about the person you want to mentor you—get to know the people who know them. Check out their online presence. If you don’t know your potential mentor very well yet, check to see if their public persona lines up with your observations. Do they still seem like someone who could potentially be a good fit?
Ask for the initial meeting.
Note that this is not the time to ask this person to “be your mentor.” That’s a lot of pressure to put on someone you might not know very well, and more than that, you still need to evaluate if this initial meeting was helpful or not. Just ask to get a cup of coffee or something equally informal, and come with questions prepared. The conversation might get away from that, but it’s also important to let the conversation flow organically, too.
Follow up post-meeting.
You want to show that you are committed to this working relationship. Make sure to follow up within a day, thanking this person for their time. Email is more than acceptable at this stage; anything more involved could be too time-consuming or overbearing. This is also an appropriate time to mention that you’d like to do this again, and offer to put something on the calendar if they agree.
This part one of a two-part series. For part two, check out AlvinHopeJohnson.net.