No one arrives at a place of success or advancement completely on their own. Yes, your hard work and efforts might keep your forward progress going, but don’t forget that there was someone who opened a door of opportunity, taught you the basic skills, gave you helpful information, or advocated for you. They helped you to set sail into the deep ocean so that you can experience and achieve great things.
There are always people who are ahead of us, therefore, we can always learn and grow in our stage of life. When you have a good mentor, it can make a big impact in your life. There are lessons that you can glean from their experience so that you don’t have to make the same mistakes. There are insightful wisdom and decisions, which brought them success that you can implement in your life.
One thing to keep in mind is that as a person gets older, they start to think about legacy and investment in the next generation. This is why if you are able to understand the principles of having a good mentoring relationship, then you will be able to go further and advance in your goals and life. Don’t miss these opportunities.
Therefore, here are 6 skills (MENTOR) that you can implement in order to find the right mentor for you and advance in your career or life:
- M – MAKE the request. Just asking a person to meet up is the hard part. Many people who are able to mentor are usually really busy and their time is limited. But you have to be willing to face your fear of rejection and pull the trigger. You will never know unless you ask. Don’t forget that these people probably had mentors at one point in their lives, therefore, they understand. Make the request simple and specific. Offer to buy them coffee or a meal. Start off by sending them a short email and share who you are, what it is that you want, and explain the purpose of the meeting. Just remember the “who, what, and why.”
Next Steps: Think about the people that you want to learn from and craft a clear and concise email making the request for an appointment. Don’t forget to add in the email something that you admire of their work and what they were able to accomplish so that they know that they can add value to you.
- E – ESTABLISH the relationship. Mentorship is all about the relationship. Therefore, make sure that you are doing everything to focus on the relationship. It should be a priority for you to be connected, to be curious, and to be communicative. Before jumping into the agenda or the questions that you have prepared, try to get to know them and connect with them first. Ask questions that help you to get to know them as a person (i.e. hobbies, favorite vacation spots, experiences that impacted them the most, and etc.).
Next Steps: Ask questions as if you had to write a one-page summary of their life or as if you had to introduce them to a group of people. What would you want people to know?
- N – NOTICE if you click with them. Not all mentorships are created equal. There will be some people that you instantly click with and others that might not be what you expected. This is OK. Sometimes it is really about trial and error. But it is important that there is a connection because if they are mentoring you, they will need to influence you, give you advice and perspective. Oftentimes, it is those that you click with that will help to speak some truth into you because there are similar interests and experiences that the both of you have gone through.
Next Steps: Listen to their story. Then ask yourself some of these questions: “Are there similarities in your journey?” “Are there a lot of connection points in your story?” “Do you have similar sense of humor?” “Does the conversation flow easily?” “Are they at a point where you want to be in the future?”
- T – TAKE responsibility. You cannot be passive in the mentoring relationship. Once again, mentors are busy. They do not have time to spoon-feed you. This is why you must take responsibility by coming to the meeting prepared. Do some research. Read up on things so that you can be ready to discuss. Make sure that the questions are thoughtful and something that can add value. Don’t waste their time. Also, part of taking responsibility is what happens after the meeting. Learn to follow up. It helps to send a thank you email and communicate your appreciation.
Next Steps: Do some research about the person and even the work that they have been able to accomplish. Then when you meet up (don’t do it in the beginning, but sometime in the middle to the end of the conversation), ask them the questions that you have prepared.
- O – OFFER to help. Remember that the mentoring relationship shouldn’t just be one way. If there is reciprocation, then it helps to strengthen the relationship. Try to add some value to your mentor. The best way is to ask them how you can help them in return. There might be skills or things that you can offer to help them. Sometimes it might be totally unrelated to the topic that you are talking about. It might be something dealing with a phone app that they did not know about or if they need help with finding some information. Demonstrate that their time is being well spent and that there is a return on their investment (ROI).
Next Steps: There are two ways to add value to your mentor: 1) Ask how you can help them, 2) Listen carefully if they share a need and then offer to meet that need.
- R – REACH out again in gratitude. Once again, mentorship is about the relationship. Therefore, it helps to follow up. Every mentor wants to know that their investment is making a difference. So, let them know how your time with them is making a difference. After sending the thank you email, you can wait several weeks to send another email or message. In this follow up email you need to do a couple of things: a) If they gave you an assignment (i.e. read a book or article, watched a TED video, etc), then let them know how it has helped you, b) If you have more questions or thoughts, then indicate that in the email, c) Then ask them if they are willing to meet up again. If they are willing, then it is a good sign. If they do not respond, then don’t take it personally. Just see it as once time thing and try to find other options. Sometimes, it might not be the right season for them to invest in you, therefore, don’t give up. Always express gratitude.
Next Steps: Remember to always send a thank you email within 1 or 2 days after the meeting. Follow through on any assignments that they give you. Update them on how things are going with the advice or suggestions they offered.
The people who are making the most impact in this world have one thing in common – they all have mentors. They are getting ahead in their career and in life because they have someone who is investing in them. They are able to make wise decisions and gain perspective as they go through various challenges and opportunities. It is simply having someone, who is a bit further in the journey than you, but they are willing to walk with you and show you the way. Practice these 6 skills (MENTOR) of mentorship and see the progress and the advancement in your life:
- M – MAKE the request
- E – ESTABLISH the relationship
- N – NOTICE if you click with them
- T – TAKE responsibility
- O – OFFER your help
- R – REACH out again in gratitude