Do you have a goal that would make this a breakthrough year? Maybe you’re like me and your goal is something you didn’t get accomplished last year, but you are determined not to let that happen again?
One of the quickest ways to make significant strides towards your desired result is to seek the support of someone who has been where you want to go. A mentor can be that person.
If finding a mentor sounds like a daunting task, you’ll love this simple three-step PIC process that you can complete in a week.
Step 1: Plan
If you’re going to ask someone to devote time to teach you what they’ve learned through their experience, it’s best to go into it with a plan. You’ll demonstrate to them that you respect their time and will not be wasting it.
To create a plan, carve out one hour, and write down the answers to these questions.
- What are your long-term career goals? (list #1)
- What are your short-term goals for the next 12-18 months that will move you closer to your long-term goals? (list #2)
- Pick your top goal from list #2 – the goal that will help you reach all the others or needs to be done before you can start the rest. (list #3)
- What things that, if you learned, would catapult you to the next level and move you faster toward your goal? (list #4)
- Select the one that is most impactful out of list #4.
Bingo! That’s the area for which you should find a mentor.
Let that simmer overnight. Once you give your brain clear focus about where you want to go, other ideas may bubble up.
Step 2: Identify
On the following day, grab another piece of paper and write down the names of all the people you know who have done what you are looking to do.
Remember to think about the experiences of extended family members, friends, work colleagues, former bosses and co-workers, local people you’ve read about in the media, etc.
If you’re struggling to think of anyone who’s walked this path before, call family, friends, and colleagues to see if they know someone.
If that doesn’t work, do some research online. Google your topic. Read articles. Search LinkedIn profiles.
Don’t be deterred by the fact that you don’t know the person yet. It’s flattering to people when others notice their accomplishments and ask to hear more about what they’ve done in their life.
Once you have your list, rank the top three individuals who you 1) admire most, 2) feel your styles would match, and 3) you believe you can learn the most from. You won’t have three mentors, but you need three just in case your first choice doesn’t have time to work with you.
Limit this step to 1-2 hours. You may be intimidated by your goal or by the thought of asking someone that you may not know very well for support.
It’s important to continue moving forward so your wheels don’t get stuck in the mud of apprehension and indecision.
Step 3: Communicate
Now you’re in the homestretch. You’ve decided who you’d like as a mentor. All there is left to do is ask for what you need.
By and large, people like to help other people, especially those who are respectful and diligent. So, don’t pick up the phone just yet. Give yourself 30 minutes with paper and a pen to write some talking points.
Here’s a guide to get you started:
- Introduce yourself, and tell them who referred you or how you know about them
- Tell them why you admire them and what they’ve done that you’re interested in learning more about
- Ask if you can buy them lunch or coffee within the next week
- Set a date, time, and place-be prepared with several options close to them in case they leave this up to you
- Thank them for their time, and express your enthusiasm about talking to them further
You can make this task feel much more comfortable if you can think of something you can do for them. It’s in our nature to feel like we owe someone who does something for us.
Can you email them an article you think they’d be interested in? Connect them to a potential customer or employee?
Okay, you’re ready. With talking points in hand, make the call. You’ve got this!
Tips for the Meeting
Congratulations! You’ve PIC’d your mentor!
During your meeting, be prepared to ask lots of questions about their experience. Actively listen and take notes to show your interest. Halfway through the meeting, bring up the idea of mentoring and explore if they are open to it.
Clarify that you’ll come to each meeting prepared to ask them questions, and seek their advice. Let them know if there is something you can do for them in exchange for their time, and ask if they have other things they need help with. This isn’t necessary, but it can make the relationship feel more balanced, as mentioned above.
Set up a schedule for monthly calls/meetings over the next six months. At that point, the mentoring relationship may end, or you both may find value in continuing. Just be sure to give it 6 months before assessing whether to keep meeting.
Be prepared to graciously accept that their answer may be no. There are heavy demands on successful people’s time, so they simply may not be able to fit anything else into their schedule.
If that happens, no problem! You’re ready for that. Move to the next mentor candidate on your list!
Mentor/mentee relationships can be the most important ones in your career. Follow this simple step-by-step guide, and before you know it, you’ll have reached your goal!
Pointers to Share?
Have you been involved in a mentoring relationship? If so, share your “do this, not that” suggestions so we can learn from each other.
You can leave your suggestions in a comment below.
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