Sometimes mentorships come naturally and without a lot of forethought – like when a manager takes you under his or her wing and helps you with your personal and professional growth. But sometimes, especially when you’re trying to grow a business or break into something new, you have to work to find, and recruit, the right mentor.
The key to finding a great mentor is research. You need to find someone you’d want to be like in the future or who has successfully walked the career path you have in front of you now. Just like preparing for a job interview by learning about the company, you need to do your homework about the person you want to mentor you before the introduction.
Once you’ve found that person and you’ve done your research, reach out to them! Never assume someone is too busy – even the busiest people will take the time to mentor someone if they see the value and they feel a connection. Start by making an introduction and asking to meet for coffee, but keep the meeting short. Come with questions that you’re not afraid to ask.
After that initial meeting, show your appreciation with a heartfelt thank you note and, if you’re not already connected on LinkedIn, send a connection invite ASAP. Also, if the person you want to mentor you offered any advice or insight based on your questions, follow up soon to let them know you took their advice and how things went. No one wants to feel like their time has been wasted, so this is a good way to show that you value what they bring to the table and that you are worth the energy.
At this point you have a decision to make… do you want this person to mentor you? You’ve put in the work, you had a great first meeting and you’ve shown that you are worth the investment, but it’s still OK to walk away with that one coffee meeting under your belt. You’ve made a great connection and that’s worth it.
If you do want to continue the relationship, then it’s time to make the ask! This 2018 article from MarketWatch has some great advice on moving forward: https://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-rules-how-to-ask-someone-to-be-your-mentor-2018-03-29.
If you’re looking for someone to offer more practical, immediate advice on growing your business, that’s work for a business coach rather than a mentor. Find your local Growth Coach online at https://www.thegrowthcoach.com/find-a-coach.