Intentional Relationships: Mentoring (Part 2)
HOW TO FIND YOUR PERFECT MENTOR
Yesterday, we talked about what the mentoring relationship is and how important it is to find a mentor to lead you well, show you the ropes and help you succeed in all areas of your life. You have probably heard it over and over again. But, no one really tells you actually HOW to find the absolute perfect mentor just for you.
In business, a lot of companies believe that mentorship is really important. In casual conversation, the benefits of having this special relationship in your life can even come up. However, no one really talks about the HOW! When I first started craving having this type of relationship in my life, there were very few women in my spheres of influence to begin with and I couldn’t find many that I actually clicked with and admired. In most cases, I was the one pursued to be the mentor and it was really difficult for me to find someone to mentor me.
The first thing I want you to keep in mind with finding this special relationship is that it needs to be natural and not forced.
When I look back at all of the mentors I have had in my life, professional and personal, I can honestly say that it is only now, looking back on the relationship, that I call them my mentor. When we were actually in the thick of the relationship, we didn’t have a spoken title for it, we just knew it was supposed to be exactly what it was. If I asked them about it today, they would never know how pivotal they were in my life and how much they influenced me. They probably had no idea they were even my mentors. Why? Because it was so natural and it didn’t need the formal mentor relationship where you each sign a document you will meet a certain amount of times per year, etc.
Many businesses and organizations even offer formal mentor programs where everyone signs forms and you are matched with a mentor for a certain time frame. It certainly is possible that a program like that can be beneficial, but most of the feedback I head about them is that they don’t go very well. It is rare that the person you get matched with is perfect for you because it isn’t natural… it is forced.
At one point, a few years ago, I actually intentionally sought out someone specific to be a personal mentor. She responded with telling me that the only way she could do it is if a 3rd person was in the room with us to maintain the integrity of the relationship. I believe that was a rule for the organization she was with but I wasn’t looking for a mentorship that was bounded by so many rules and regulations. So much of the magic of mentorship happens in the everyday things like cooking a meal together or interacting with a server at a restaurant. I believe there is a place for both types of mentoring relationships for sure, but the important thing is not to force it. The more naturally the relationship can evolve into a mentoring one, the better at really getting the most out of it for both of you.
START WITH WHO YOU KNOW
- If you’re on track with your career path, start with who you know. Do you have a more senior coworker who you admire or a boss? See if they’d grab a cup of coffee with you to discuss their own career.
- If you’re not sure where you want your career to go—consider informational interviews. They’re a great way to network and learn about an industry that interests you.
- Attend networking events and actually follow up with people who you found inspiring. See if they’ll meet you for a meal or coffee. If it’s a good fit, stay on top of communicating with them regularly.
- Ask people close to you if they know someone who might be a good fit for you and naturally start building on that new relationship.
Find someone that you get along with and that you admire, and don’t be afraid to be picky. It is really important to find someone that is in the position where you hope to be someday, whether you are looking to grow in your career, spiritually, or in any other aspect of your life that you are looking for growth. Intentionally try to get to know them as much as possible and ask them a lot of really good questions.
HELP YOUR MENTOR
So… if you’re trying to be natural about this and not force the relationship by flat out asking them to be your mentor, then how do you start? The best advice I have heard about how to begin to build this relationship is to take the focus off of yourself and what YOU need right now and help them instead.
Ask them what their biggest goals and issues are right now and then work intentionally to help them reach their goals while you learn from them along the way. There are many ways you can do this such as:
· Helping them with research.
· Ask what their biggest struggles are and brain-storm on how you can help.
· You can connect people in your network to them.
· You can volunteer to take over a project for them at work.
· Dream with them about their own goals
If you help them, they will help you and you both with learn and grow through the process… naturally. It’s that simple.
One of my clients recently shared with me how she helped her mentor. She reached out to an old boss that she wanted to continue a relationship with and asked her if they could meet within the next few weeks. She told her possible mentor that she was very open to fit the meeting around her schedule because she knew she was very busy. Her mentor thought of a perfect way that she could help her out! She asked my client if she wouldn’t mind bringing her dog and meeting her at a nearby park over the weekend. This way, her future mentor’s daughters could play with her dog while they chatted! Such a perfect way to help and give them both the time needed.
I love the way they both thought outside the box to make this meeting happen to begin this relationship. Always be on the lookout of how you can help your mentor and really…. just ask them. This is also a great reminder that meetings don’t have to be at work or in an office. Try to grab dinner together or do an activity with your possible mentor to try to get to really know them outside of work or other place where you normally have interactions with them.
I'd love to hear about YOUR experience with finding a mentor or mentee. How did the relationship start?
P.S... You can read the other posts in this series here: