Many young people today approach mentoring the wrong way.
When they spot someone they admire, they skip all the organic steps of offering value and building rapport and jump to “could you please mentor me?” While this could pass for a polite request, adding “please” to the sentence doesn’t make it less inappropriate than it is.
Unbeknownst to young people like these, they’ve thrown their would-be mentor into a tight corner where (s)he feels obliged to say yes; for conscience’s sake.
However, people goof this way for honest reasons. The most obvious being misconceptions or flat out ignorance of how mentoring works.
For the first category, here are a few misunderstandings most young people have about mentoring.
• I need to wait to be found by a mentor.
• I need to ask someone to mentor me point-blank.
• Mentoring focuses the spotlight on me.
• Mentored is more a passive thing than active.
At the end of this article, we hope that you shed some of these dead weights. Misconceptions like these will not only stop you from finding a true mentor but also delay your growth journey as a result.
It doesn’t matter for how long you’ve been doing cold calls on potential mentors, a wrong approach will never give you sustainable results. To find a mentor, here are 10 crucial tips to keep in mind.
1. Find Someone Whose Present Looks Like Your Future
Read that headline again! It doesn’t say “find someone whose kind of job you want or whose delivery style and platforms you admire”.
In finding a mentor, look for someone who shares similar strengths and skill sets you want to replicate. If you skip this part, then you’ll keep chasing the wind.
This is where you want to spend ample time to find the right person. As a caveat, you will have to sample several candidates before you commit to one. Remember, it’s your life we’re talking about here. It’s about who you’ll become in the next 5 to 10 years. Be sure you have the right picture.
2. Observe the Person
This is where you do your due diligence. You want to know the character, habits, traits, persuasions and lesser-known details about the person you choose to follow. Believe it or not, you become who you follow. And if you’re not careful, you might inherit limitations as well.
However, this isn’t a call to stalking. You’re simply trying to get it right. Keep things within moral boundaries.
To be mentored is to make yourself vulnerable. While you still have the power of choice, use it to your advantage.
Look for your proposed mentor on social media. Follow his handles. Know people who know him. Attend his events and get a feel for yourself. Ensure you understand his sets of strengths and weaknesses so you can manage your expectations.
3. Go ahead and “ask”
If he passes the probe, then it’s time to make your move. Most people goof at the this point.
They ask “can you be my mentor” right off the bat. That’s too long a shot. Mentoring is a heavy commitment. No one wants such a commitment with someone they’re just meeting for the first time.
It’s too long a shot for a first meeting.
Instead, ask for a brief meeting with them. Anything out of the formal setting. You want to keep it short. Less than an hour is a good time frame. Have your questions handy but don’t let it feel like a newspaper interview or a quiz for some personality test. Be aware of the potential mentor’s preferences. Some would want it formal. Respect that!
Another thing to ask is to volunteer at his event or pay for a course that gives you close access to him. That way, you’ve established the first contact.
4. Assess the Outcome of the Meeting
Would you want to spend more time learning from your potential mentor?
Did his words sound like something you want to keep hearing over the next 5 to 10 years? Were they encouraging? Did he ask you questions? Did he seem willing to open up to teach you stuff?
Did you leave there feeling much better than you came? Was there a connection?
If these did not happen, you’re at liberty to let it slip. You don’t want to spend the next half-decade of your life glued to the wrong person.
However, if the first meeting went well, then it’s time to consider a follow-up.
5. Follow up After the Meeting
Whether or not you want to go ahead with the relationship, a “thank you” message is a courteous thing to do. It’s proper to follow up immediately, expressing your gratitude for his time.
This could be through an email or other forms of communication except for a voice call.
You may also like: 5 Keys to Cultivate a Mentoring Relationship
If you’re sure this is the person, then include your willingness to continue the relationship here. Hint that you would appreciate a piece of their time soon. If he agrees to that, go ahead and offer a specific date and time and ask if it will be convenient for him. Ensure that the whole conversation feels natural and unforced.
In our next article, we will walk through the five other tips to keep in mind while mentor hunting.
In the meantime, tell us what tip stood out for you. What new tip have you learned? Let us know in the comments.