I have long been convinced that mentoring is one of the most useful, least talked about strategies in business.
With the success of such books like Mentoring 101 and Power Mentoring, more and more people are hearing about mentorship as a real strategy in business and life. However, even those who have heard about it as a concept aren’t quite sure how to actually get a mentor in hand (they can be slippery, them mentors).
So what’s the easiest way to get a mentor?
It’s a sad reality that people don’t wander around our planet offering to mentor others. As a result, sometimes the very person you’d love to have as your mentor never knew he or she had pearls of wisdom to offer, or that someone was looking high and low for such pearls. You’ve got to ask to get what you want – in life, and in mentorship.
But not every potential mentor is created equal.
Let’s look at how to ask two very different types of people.
How to Ask Someone You Know:
If you already know the person you want to ask to be your mentor, you’re finished with half of the work. Your challenge is now to convince them that they have valuable insight to offer you (sometimes newbie mentors are all bashful-like, and need some fine cajoling).
If they do already know how valuable their advice and time is (or once you’ve done convincing on newbie mentors), then your challenge is to get them to say yes to being your mentor.
Doing this requires presenting them with a simple mentorship plan.
Depending on your needs and situation, that might mean you suggest to them an arrangement like, “Ideally, as my mentor, we’d talk on the phone for one hour twice a month about some of the current challenges in my job, and then see each other for coffee a couple times a year”, or, “I’m looking for a mentor who could meet with me for a few hours a few times a year to dig deep into some of the life questions I’m struggling with.”
Whatever your plan is, make it simple. Present it simply. And get their feedback.
How to Ask Someone You Don’t Know:
But what about asking someone you don’t know to be your mentor?
This is, obviously, harder. First things, first, you’ve got to know how to pitch. Short, succinct, witty emails that provide minimal flattery and maximum points of commonality are best. For a great example of how to write an email that someone will notice, see my blog series here.
Remember that when asking someone to mentor you that you don’t know — or someone who might have a lot of such queries — you’ve got to make it worth their while to consider your offer.
Yup, I said it.
Paying for a mentor is not heresy, and might just be smart business. In fact, I even recommended it to others on a recent post at AskAPRGirl. There are many folks I’d pay to have as my mentor, and occasionally take on mentoring clients myself (drop me a line for details).
It’s a smart way to get what you want, and motivate the other person to give it to you.
How have you found a mentor in the past? Would you pay for a mentor, or what do you think of the idea for paying for such a service?