by David Neagle, best selling author of “The Millions Within: How to Manifest Exactly What You Want and Have an EPIC Life!“
It is well known that behind every successful person there’s a mentor who helped them along the way. Oprah’s mentor was the late Maya Angelou, Mark Zuckerberg’s was Steve Jobs, and former U.S. Secretary of State and U.S. Army General Colin Powell considered his father a mentor. In fact, a recent Deloitte report found that that millennials planning to stay at their position for the next five years or more are twice as likely to have a mentor than those who do not.
But finding the right mentor for you can be a challenge. As someone who has been a mentor for decades (and been a mentee), I get it. People are busy, objectives may be misaligned and opportunities are scarce. Yet, if you are patient, persistent and remain focused, being mentored by someone you respect will pay off in spades.
To celebrate National Mentor Month and get you on the right track for the year, here are a few tips on finding the right mentor for you.
1. Know what you want.
Before you approach a mentor, know the specific area the person can provide assistance and support. This will help align goals and expectations.
Also, tell your mentor what you are specifically looking to get out of the mentorship and what areas you need help in. A good way of thinking of this is asking yourself, “I want this person to be my mentor because….” By honing in on the reason, you can determine where someone will best be able to help you in your journey.
2. Determine your success level.
What are you hoping to achieve in your entrepreneurial journey (or career path)? So, for instance, having a lifestyle small business is different than wanting to IPO your company. These different goals will play a role in determining what mentor is right for you.
Once you figure out your success level, start building a list of entrepreneurs (and executives and experts) who you aspire to be like – and who had a similar journey to your own. Then, get on their radar. Follow them on Twitter, comment on their social media posts, connect with them on LinkedIn and reach out to them on email. I’d suggest starting the conversation discussing something you admire about them – “that article you wrote about our industry was very on point” or “When I read this article, I thought about you and your views on x.” By “warming” up to a potential mentor and getting the conversation started, your chance of getting a “yes” for a mentorship opportunity can increase.
3. Vet them.
Just like they are seeing if you would be a great mentee, ensure they would be a great mentor for you. Besides looking at success levels, study their credentials. Do they practice what they preach, have they had a number of successes, do they have the accolades to back up their experience? Can they provide they actually have the results?
4. Be the first to provide help.
More likely than not, you are not the only one asking someone to be their mentor. Some people get mentorship requests on a daily basis. So, how do you stand out? Ask what you can do to help them first. And if you don’t think you can provide assistance to a successful entrepreneur or executive, you are wrong. These people are busy, so any sort of request to make their life easier is greatly appreciated.
Keep in mind, the mentor-mentee relationship is two-sided, with both people getting something out of it. I can’t tell you how much I have learned mentoring people, and I know others would say the same thing.
5. Follow through.
If a mentor offers advice, does an intro or makes suggestions on helping you get to the next level, take action. The worst thing you can do is nothing. (If for some reason, their recommendation doesn’t make sense, explain the reason why.) And then provide updates. Explain how they specifically helped you and your company and thank them for their help. Being a grateful student is so important to a successful mentor relationship.
6. Pay attention.
I realize you will have specific objectives you hope to achieve with the mentor relationship, but it’s important to understand that some of the best lessons you may learn aren’t tied to those goals.
Watch what your mentor is doing. Study the person. See how he or she acts in certain situations, responds to issues and handles the leadership role. Simply observing the mentor is sometimes where the real secrets lie.
David Neagle is the best selling author of “The Millions Within: How to Manifest Exactly What You Want and Have an EPIC Life!” and is known as one of the architects of the coaching and personal growth industry itself, having worked alongside other well-known mentors like Bob Proctor, Marianne Morrisey, Tony Robbins and the like for decades.