How To Find A Mentor The Right Way
Follow these 9 steps to find your next (or first) mentor.
When I started a podcast a year ago, I had three reasons for doing so: I didn’t need to be an expert on everything myself (I could interview people who were); I could grow my network and meet awesome people; and I could ask the questions I wanted to know, while helping others in the process.
One of the best parts of the whole journey has been to see the common threads shared by my guests along the way in terms of achieving success. One of those that keeps coming back time and time again is the advice to find a mentor.
Whether they’ve said it directly or just demonstrated it via their path to where they are today, finding a mentor ranks among some of the top advice for living an extraordinary life.
So if it’s so important, why doesn’t everyone have a mentor?
I believe it’s because the whole process of finding a mentor seems more intimidating and complicated than it needs to be. In my opinion, a mentor is simply someone who is doing what you want to be doing in a certain area of life, be it relationships, career or fitness.
So if that’s all there is to it, how do we find a mentor without getting all weird about it?
That’s what I’m going to share in this article. I’ve collected these tips from my almost 50 guests on the podcast, as well as personal success working with mentors of my own.
9 STEPS TO FIND A MENTOR
1. KNOW YOUR WHY
As with so many other areas in life, we need to know why we want to do something before we start doing it, otherwise it becomes too easy to quit along the way. How would finding a mentor make a difference in achieving your goals? Also get clear on the area of your life you want to improve, then move on to step 2.
2. IDENTIFY THE WHO
Once you know what you want to improve and why, it’s time to start brainstorming people you admire in those specific areas. This is actually really fun. Think of it as an excuse to Facebook stalk, but in a constructive way. It’s important to be specific here. If you want to improve your work ethic, find someone who models the type of work ethic you admire (Also see the 6 new ways to find a mentor).
3. DON’T USE THE M-WORD
After identifying your new potential mentors, there’s an important little trick to keep in mind: don’t actually ask. This is one of the biggest mistakes people fall into. By formally asking someone “Will you be my mentor?”, it makes it seem like this is going to be too much of a demand on their time. Remember, chances are these people are busy (or careful with their time). Now and again this may work, but it’s far better to follow the approach I’m about to outline.
4. START ADDING VALUE
Rather than making a formal request for mentorship, start building relationships with the people you identified in step 2. Social Media gets a bad rap these days, but its ability to connect with people is undeniable (that’s why I’m a minimalist who loves social media. But I digress). Some ways to do this include sharing their content, liking or commenting on their latest posts, participating in surveys, leaving reviews for their books and podcasts (that was a hint) and just generally putting yourself on their radar. Ask yourself “How can I add value to this person?”
5. MAKE IT A NO-BRAINER
Once you’ve been adding value for a month or two, and you’re ready to get some advice, you’re ready for step 5. Again, don’t just shoot off a needy email. Rather, make sure to ask a specific, easy-to-answer question. Give options to make it easier for them and to show you’ve already done some work on your own. This could look something like this: “Hey Jason. I’ve been working on my sock game for the last two months and am really inspired by your personal collection. I was hoping you could help: Should I match my socks with my tie or with my shirt if I really wanna make an impact in the room?” Terrible example, but you get the idea…
6. ACTUALLY TAKE ACTION
Nobody wants to feel like they’re wasting their time. If your potential mentor has taken the time to reply, make damn sure you apply and implement what they’ve shared. Think how annoyed you would be if someone asked you for advice, and then carried on their usual way without even using it. This is someone you want to be mentored by, right? Then prove it.
7. SHARE YOUR WINS
Alright, so you’ve got clear on what you want to improve, found a potential mentor, added value, reached out for advice and taking action. Awesome! Your next step is to monitor and record any progress you make in your chosen area. Once you’ve started seeing positive results by implementing the advice shared by your mentor, let them know! Often times this will lead to a stronger relationship, and it demonstrates that you are someone who takes action. This is the one characteristic which almost guarantees that a mentor will want to continue helping you in the future.
8. SET CLEAR EXPECTATIONS
You could easily end the mentor-seeking process there, but if you are ready to setup a more formal arrangement, here’s how to do so. First of all, if possible, offer to take your mentor out for lunch or something similar (obviously this isn’t possible if it’s someone online). Next, you need to make it very clear what it is you are looking for, and what your expectations are of each party. Ask your mentor if he/she would be open to meeting for a lunch like this every two months (for example), and what it is you will discuss at those meetups. Be clear on what you want, but open to suggestions. Just showing that you’ve thought about this and value their time will go a long way.
Finally, continue this process of adding value and taking action for as long as you like. You could even start working on other areas, such as your health (once your sock game is on point, of course), although I am a fan of focusing on one thing at a time.
I’d love to hear from you: In what area of your life would you love a mentor? How can you start finding one this week? Shoot me a tweet @BryanTeare and lemme know!
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Bryan Teare is a coach and host of The Quarter Life Comeback podcast where he interviews various experts, mentors and other inspiring guests to empower young adults to create extraordinary lives. Follow him on Twitter at @BryanTeare.
Originally published at bryanteare.com on February 15, 2017.