I have a woman in my community, Diane Webster, who asked me “How can I go about getting a mentor?”
The first step is to ask yourself:
When you say mentor, usually people mean someone who will volunteer their time to support you, but a similar person who will support you is a coach, or maybe a consultant or an advisor.
How do you decide whether you need a mentor or a coach/consultant?
If you're wanting someone to give you guidance, give you advice on your business, then you really should be paying the person for their expertise. Also, if you’ll meet every week or every other week and you really want them to be holding you accountable and teaching or guiding you along the way (and they're not someone higher up in your company) you should be hiring them.
Now, if it's just someone that you want to check in with, talk things over with, maybe once a month, then there are some organizations that have mentorship services that are part of membership.
One of them that I know of is The Forum (previously known as FWE or Forum for Women Entrepreneurs). You sign up. You are a member, and then you can become a mentee in their mentor program. They'll match you with someone based on your goals.
But again, you need to know:
I've actually done their program before as a mentee, which is really nice because I spend so much of my time as a mentor and coach. Even though I do have coaches that I hire for specific things, it was nice just to have someone to chat to.
Since I'm really passionate about supporting women, especially in male-dominated industries, I was paired up with a woman who was very high up in a very powerful international software development company. She was a smart cookie, and it was really interesting to chat with her about her experience as a woman in tech.
Every month, I shared with her what I was working on. Then she would ask me things like, “Well, have you thought of this?” Or “Did you know that the industry is kind of like this?” Because I had no idea about software tech companies, it was very helpful.
If you don't find a mentor through one of these programs and you don't want to hire a coach, advisor, or a consultant, and you see someone that you wish could mentor you, then you have to go to them with a really good proposal.
I've had people come to me and say, “I would really like to talk with you about starting my coaching practice and where I should get certified. Can I ask you a few questions?.” I replied, “Sure, go for a hike with me and you can ask me anything.” They come to my neighbourhood and as we hike, I encourage them to start recording on their phone, so we walk and talk.” I've mentored people that way.
However, I've had some people in the past email me and say, “I want to run a successful business. Can you be my mentor and tell me the steps I need to take?”
In this case, I felt they should hire me because I would take my 10 years of knowledge and dilute it down for them. I would make it super easy and share all of my documents with them and all of my best practices and everything that's worked well for me. That deserves to be paid for because that's asking a lot from someone.
A lot of people will approach me or whoever they want to be mentored by or want a favor from, and they lead with their bib on. This is a concept one of my coaches, James, taught me and it’s a sure fire easy to get “NO” for an answer.
Imagine taking a napkin and sticking it in your shirt like a bib and saying, “I'm coming to you for you to serve me.” I hear that all the time.
For example, if you want to be a guest on the Dynamic Women Podcast, don't email me and tell me how amazing you are, how your content is the best and you just released a book my audience should buy. That's coming at me with a bib on. Instead, email me and tell me how amazing the show is, and share that you've actually listened to an episode and tell me why my people would have great results from listening to what you say.
If you want a mentor, you need to come at them with the napkin on your arm to serve, like a waiter does in a fancy restaurant. Go in with the intention to serve, for example, the mentor is really passionate about working for a specific charity, and you know that or this mentor has a new book out, why don't you:
Then after you have focused on them, you have earned a moment to talk about yourself. Don't go in with a bib on. Go in with the idea to serve first because really, you're asking them to serve you. Make it a no-brainer. If you just say, “I want you to mentor me,” that makes them work to understand what that means. Make it easy.
Lay it all out. Give or ask information like:
Generally, people are open to that kind of request and they'll be more generous. I’d agree to the 30 minutes, but then I usually give them more time. We’d chat for an hour or more and then I’d offer a follow-up call, and I’ll end up sharing some more stuff. But if you come in looking for everything, you probably will get nothing.
If that talk goes well then you can propose to have them be your mentor. Again go to them with a plan of how often and for how long you would like to chat with them. As a mentee, also go into every conversation with an agenda. Don't make the mentor work hard for you. When you are prepared, they can just show up and be in their brilliance with you. The last piece is to agree to a duration of the mentor/mentee relationship. It can sound like this, “I hope that we could meet for 1 hour, once a month over Zoom for six months. I'll send you the agenda in advance and send you the calendar request and Zoom link.” When you make it super easy for them, they are happy to mentor you.
So all the best with finding your mentor, I trust that I've given you a bunch of different options to go with.
And if you need a coach instead reach out firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more of my blogs here:
1. Do Coaches Need Coaches (Part 1): Yes
2. Do Coaches Need Coaches (Part 2): No and Maybe
3. The First 3 Things You Need From a GREAT Mentor or Coach (part 1)
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