"How do I get a mentor"?
Whenever I speak about mentorship, it's the first question. No one questions the value of a mentor. Not many ask about how to find a mentor. Everyone focuses on how to get a mentor.
Most people are stopped by a fear of rejection. Some get tongue tied and aren't sure what to ask. Others never even approach a prospective mentor, assuming he or she is too busy.
When it comes to getting a mentor, it seems as though everyone's an introvert.
Early in my career I was very fortunate to have people volunteer to be my mentor. Then the first time I asked someone to be mentor, I was flatly rejected.
But I knew the value of great mentors, so I found new ways to get one.
Leverage existing relationships.
Ask your boss, current mentor, or a trusted colleague for advice and an introduction. It's just like having someone make a networking introduction on your behalf. Your supporters should know what skills and interests you have and will likely have a good suggestion.
Ask for advice from someone you admire.
Start with a request for advice and see if a coaching relationship develops. Most people don't mind giving advice even if they are very busy. Some leaders are reluctant to invest in a mentoring relationship with people they don't know well, but are willing to be a sounding board for a topic or two.
Here's one way: If you hear someone speak, ask them if they would mind if you sent a few follow up questions. One of my most productive mentoring relationships started out as a few questions on organizational development and led to a role that set up my next promotion.
Be investment grade.
Mentorship is an investment, so demonstrate you're investment grade. Add value to your relationships and people will start to see you as someone they want to invest in.
3 easy things you can do immediately (1) Follow someone's suggestions and tell them how it worked. (2) Ask great questions that enhance topics being discussed. (3) Build a reputation as a thought leader by recommending insightful articles or making out-of-the-box suggestions based on emerging trends.
Ask someone directly.
Yes this may turn into an outright rejection, but as Wayne Gretzky says, "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take."
"Mark, your name has come up several times as a great coach for strategy. I want to develop in this area, would you have the time to mentor me?"
Rejection happens. Be gracious. Not everyone has the time, interest or skills to be a mentor and they're doing you a favor by being up front. If your request is declined, simply say, "Thanks for time and consideration. If you have a suggestion for another mentor, please let me know. I'd appreciate your recommendation."
Ready to get a great mentor? There's nothing stopping you now.
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