In this video, I give 5 tips on how to find a mentor. If you have struggled to find a mentor, or don’t think you need a mentor, this is for you. It is helpful to start with a baseline. Here is the definition of a mentor.
noun. 1. Someone who teaches or gives help and advice to a less experienced and often younger person.
Having a mentor help you grow both personally and professionally. It can lead to having better success in life.
Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen and a push in the right direction.
― John C. Crosby
#1 – Be in a learning mindset
The fact that you are reading/watching this is a good indication that you want to learn. If you aren’t in that mindset, take some time to figure out what your goals are and the direction you are going in. And, what are you doing to get there. Chances are you probably need to learn a thing or two on the way.
You should continue to push yourself and grow. Sometimes it may be an area that isn’t necessarily your wheelhouse. Mentors can really help with that. But, if you aren’t wanting to learn from someone, you won’t get very far.
#2 – Surround yourself with smart people
You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.
― Jim Rohn
Who do you spend time with? Who do you surround yourself with? Do these people encourage you? Do they help you? Do you learn from them?
I had transferred from North Carolina to Texas for work, and I remember a manager asking me if I had a mentor. My response was that I had 17 mentors. I had built relationships with the senior people and knew what their strengths were. I would go to the right person when I needed help and had a question.
In Texas, it was recommended to me that I participate in a weekly meeting that one of the senior technical leaders ran. He was focused in a different area than I was, so I was hesitant. However, this was one of the single best career moves I made. I learned so much more about many different topics. Even soft skills. Learning how to ask better questions. Learning about thought process. I also ended up building a great friendship with that leader and I’ve looked at him as a mentor and trusted adviser.
So, who are you surrounding yourself with, and are they helping or providing value?
#3 – Engage and ask questions
You have already surrounded yourself with people that are smarter than you. How are you gaining knowledge from them? Are you asking them questions? That’s really how a mentor relationship starts and how you find a mentor. Asking questions to grow and become more successful. They are smarter than you, and maybe more successful. How do you learn from that and take your game to the next level?
The only way you will get there is by asking questions. In my experience, people will be willing to answer. Try to make them meaningful questions and to not waste their valuable time. Be thoughtful about it.
Also, you could look for opportunities where it may be more appropriate to ask them. An example would be that weekly meeting I mentioned above. The whole purpose of that meeting was to ask that senior technical leader questions. That’s an amazing opportunity! I know of other folks that do office hours type activities where they will spend time asking questions.
#4 – Schedule regular time
You have surrounded yourself with people that are smarter than you. You’ve been asking questions and have built a rapport with those individuals. You have come to a point where you feel that person would be a great mentor for you. It is time to see if you can setup some dedicated time to get advice and guidance.
What you should NOT do is ask the following. “Hey, can you be my mentor?” I don’t recommend being that formal. If you have been asking thoughtful questions, and the relationship has grown, it should develop naturally.
You may also have a work environment where you may be able to shortcut that a little bit and just ask to schedule some time to discuss things.
I recommend starting with a 30 minute meeting. Make sure you know what you want out of that meeting. You are the one driving it. If you don’t have a plan, the person you are wanting to be your mentor may see the time as not valuable and not continue it.
#5 – Understand things change over time
You won’t have this mentor forever. As you grow, you may surround yourself with new people that know different things. You may find that you have changed direction in your life or career. Always look for opportunities and build relationships. Don’t be afraid to change who your mentors are.
I’ve had many different mentors in my career. Most recently I have two. I consider one more a career/life mentor and another that is a technical mentor. Although both are wicked smart on both fronts.
I have also found that I have a virtual mentor. Gary Vaynerchuk has been influencing me heavily and he has a great outlook and message. I don’t know him personally, but through his YouTube channel, I’ve learned a lot!
Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.
― Benjamin Franklin