Finding someone to mentor you is not always easy. Often people are told to find someone really successful and to ask them to be your mentor. However, in reality this usually doesn’t work out. Most really successful people have really busy schedules and usually aren’t willing to take on an apprentice whom they have never met. Even if they do agree to mentor you because they feel obligated to say yes, the mentorship agreement may turn out poorly due to the lack of interest from the mentor. So how can you learn to grow as a person? Here are some tips to help you find mentors that will actually invest in you, and good ideas to maintain those relationships.
1. Find someone who you respect
This person doesn’t have to be a big business executive. They might not even have a job. This person may be a stay at home mother or a church volunteer. Family, friends, and people in your own community often make the best mentors, because they already know you. What is it that you respect about them? Are they well-mannered and speak with civility? Do they have a commanding presence when they enter a room? Finding a role model who you respect may be the best mentor you will meet because they can teach you much more than just how to operate a business. Also, you don’t need to limit yourself to just 1 mentor. Seek out people who can mentor you at church, at work, and in your own family.
2. Build a relationship
Before you create labels like mentor and mentee, try building your relationship with this person first. Start with a cup of coffee or an informational interview, perhaps even going out for lunch. Creating a formal mentorship can often seem overwhelming and intimidating for anyone even if they are the mentor. Let your potential role model learn your skills and your desires before you dive in with the grunt work. If they aren’t willing to meet up with you and be your friend, they probably won’t be effective mentors or helpful when you really need them. Ask questions but do so in a normal conversation. Interviewing people makes them nervous so act natural if you really want to get to know them.
3. Follow up
After you meet with this person, it is appropriate to follow up right away. Do not wait a week to try to rekindle a relationship. Also, remember to thank this role model for their time whether you do it via email, text, or phone call. Mention you would like to meet with them again, if they are interested they will let you know, if they aren’t then you can move on to another potential mentor. Do not make people feel obligated to meet because that won’t help the relationship grow.
4. Embrace the criticism
Accepting constructive criticism is tough for everybody, but it is an important hurdle to master. Recognizing our flaws and making changes to remedy them is how we learn to grow. Ignoring our flaws is a surefire way to remain stagnant. Mentorship is about growth, otherwise we wouldn’t need a mentor. When your mentor challenges you to act differently, that is when you should really be paying attention. Ignoring their advice may be convenient, but it probably won’t help you in the future. This is where you can either grow or plateau.
5. Remain faithful
Mentorship doesn’t stop after a month, a summer, or a year. It is an evolving process that you need to invest in throughout your life, even if you or your mentor moves to a different state. Thanks to technology, we don’t have to stop talking to our role models just because we can’t see them in person. Mentoring could mean a monthly lunch, a quarterly phone call, a weekly intermural game, or steady emails.
6. Support people whom you’ve never met
If you still would like to find a mentor who you don’t know personally, refrain from asking them for a mentorship agreement. Instead, support them when you can. Follow their work, repost their blogs, make positive comments on their social media posts, and share their success. Mentorship is a two way street and showing them how you can be helpful may catch their eye. Once they have noticed you, take the time to build a relationship the way you would with any other friend.
Regardless of who you choose as a mentor, it is imperative that you invest in yourself. A mentor can only take you so far, it is ultimately up to you to take control of your life and your future. If you are struggling to decide which paths to follow, pray to God and ask for guidance. He is the best mentor of all.