“I need a mentor.”
If those four words have ever crossed your mind or come out of your mouth, these 6 tips are designed to help you increase your success in finding the perfect mentor and getting the most out of the connection.
Keep reading to understand how you can find an amazing mentor and get a mentorship experience that helps you achieve your goals faster and easier.
So many people want a mentor to help them in various areas of life and business. Unfortunately, very few people know exactly what a mentor is, what type of mentorship they should pursue, or what their responsibilities are in a mentor-mentee relationship. This can often result in disappointment and frustration.
Here’s what you can do to solve this:
- Understand What a Mentor Is
You may not think this is valuable information, or perhaps you feel you already know what a mentor is. However, a survey by the non-profit organization MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership found that over 67% of people were unaware of what a mentor is or what a mentor is designed to do.
A mentor, by definition, is an experienced and trusted advisor. They are typically a more experienced person who can guide a less-experienced person in a specific area or set of areas.
This means that an ideal mentor will be someone who knows and has succeeded in an area of life or business that you’re looking to achieve.
But how do you find your ideal mentor?
- Know EXACTLY What You’re Trying to Achieve
Before reaching out to a mentor, you first need to know what you want to achieve. In order to do this, you must think about and decide on your SMART goals.
“I want to be successful”, “I want to grow my business”, “I need help”, or “I want to know what to do next” are not SMART goals. They’re too vague. If you took five different people and asked them what growth or success means to them, you could very well end up with five different answers.
A SMART goal is
- Specific: The goal is clearly defined. Anyone will be able to understand what you’re trying to achieve.
- Measurable: The goal can be measured in a way that allows you to determine when or if it’s been reached.
- Actionable: You’re able to take action on your goal; it’s not up to “fate” or completely out of your hands.
- Realistic: The goal makes sense and is something that is actually achievable.
- Time-based: You’ve specified a time period in which you want to achieve the goal.
An example of a SMART professional goal would be: “I want to increase my site traffic by 10% in the next 30 days” or “I want to increase my email list from 300 people to 3000 people in the next 90 days”.
Granted, there may be times when you won’t know if your particular goal is achievable. Or maybe you know it’s achievable but you’re unsure of the time frame it will take to reach it. That’s ok. The purpose of a SMART goal is to act as a compass that helps guide your actions.
Before reaching out to a mentor
you first need to know what you want to achieve.
- Be Clear About Why You Want a Mentor
After identifying your SMART goals, make sure you’re clear on why you want a mentor and what you’re hoping to gain from the relationship.
If a stranger walked up to you and asked, “can you help me?” most likely you wouldn’t know where to begin. What do they need help with? Are you even equipped to help them?
Now, if this same stranger approached you and asked, “Can you tell me where the nearest freeway is?” you’d have a better understanding of what they need and whether or not you can help.
In the same way, a mentor will have no idea what you need help with or what you should do next unless you provide them with as much detail as possible.
You’ll know you’re ready for a mentor when you can articulate:
- What type of mentorship you’re looking for
- The time commitment you’re looking for from your mentor
- Specific projects or questions you want your mentor to assist you with
- Do Your Homework Ahead of Time
A mentor is not a magic genie or an executive assistant. Depending on the mentorship style you’re looking for, your mentor can definitely help guide you in certain areas. But, keep in mind you have a part to do as well.
Are you looking to increase your site traffic, grow your social following, or monetize your business? What research have you done? Even if you start with a cursory Google search about your goal, industry, or competition – e.g. ‘how to increase followers on Instagram’, ‘best ways to increase site traffic’, ‘how to monetize a blog’ – first see what you can tackle on your own.
If you’re asking yourself, ‘why is this necessary, shouldn’t a mentor help me with this?’ The short answer is no.
Using a mentor to help you with things you can do on your own is a waste of your time and your mentor’s talents. Learn and do everything you can on your own first. Then utilize a mentor when you get stuck, aren’t sure what to do next, or have tried a few things and failed.
Share with your mentor what’s working and what’s not. Be transparent with what you’ve tried and the results of those efforts.
Using a mentor to help you with things you can do on your own
is a waste of your time and your mentor’s talents.
- Choose Wisely
There are several ways to get a mentor, however, the most effective way is to find someone you know, respect, and has already mastered or achieved something that’s in line with your goals.
Do your research on this person to determine what skills, qualifications, or resources they possess that match what you’re trying to do. If the mentor is assigned to you by a counselor or mentor program director, you should still take the time to get to know your mentor, their mentorship style, and their skillsets.
It’s important to note that mentorship isn’t always 1:1 or in person. You can learn from mentors through their blogs, podcasts, books they’ve written, or books and resources they recommend or offer.
When reaching out to a potential mentor, be polite and show them you’ve done your homework. Address your mentor by name, let them know why you’re interested in communicating with them, and ask them if they’re available to mentor you and what other information they need. If they’re not available, ask them if they know of anyone else, or any other channels you should try to get the help you need.
- Follow the Leader
You’ve done it! You’ve outlined your SMART goals, done your research, and tried a few tactics on your own – you’re officially mentor ready.
The last tip to a healthy mentorship is to actually follow the advice of your mentor. A lot of the work that goes into building a successful business revolves around trial and error. However, until you do the “try” part of the trial, you won’t know if it’s possible to reach your goals or not.
If you don’t trust the advice of your mentor for some reason, honestly discuss those reasons with him or her. Just keep in mind that thinking or feeling a tactic isn’t going to work, is too hard, isn’t exciting enough, or isn’t getting you instant results is not the same as receiving bad advice or implementing the advice and having it fail.
The path to a successful business is often a slow and steady race. A lot of the headlines about “overnight successes” are often entrepreneurs that have been working on their idea for quite awhile.
After a frank discussion with your mentor regarding your issues and questions, you should be able to move forward. If that’s not possible, you may need to look for a different mentor that better fits your needs. Even if you’re moving on, be sure to explain to your mentor what is and isn’t working. The only way we grow is by learning from our mistakes.
Mentorship can be just the thing you, your idea, or your business needs to get a healthy head start. Use these 5 tips to ensure you get the best results possible.
If you don’t know where to start with your idea or are looking for mentorship, reach out to the mentors on Ideator or check out the resources offered in the Ideator resources portal.