There’s a lot of talk out there about mentors, especially regarding where to find them, how to ask them for guidance, and what to do to keep that relationship. Mentors could come handy in building a career, relationship, keeping fit and even business.

The thought of talking to a stranger might sound novelle but here is how to go about mentorship;

Find someone you want to be like. Don’t just find someone who has a job you want or a platform that interests you. Find someone that is like you, someone with a similar set of strengths and skills you want to emulate. Otherwise, you’ll just end up frustrated.

Spend some time finding the right person. In fact, have several candidates before committing to a single mentor.

If you don’t know the person well, see if he is really like his public persona projects. Make sure you understand his strengths and weaknesses. Set your expectations realistically.

Make the “ask”. Don’t ask for the person to “be your mentor” right off the bat. That’s a big ask. Far too big for the first meeting.

Rather, ask for an initial meeting, something informal, over coffee maybe. Keep it less than an hour. Come with questions that you’re prepared to ask, but let the conversation flow relationally.

Evaluate your first meeting. After meeting, do you want to spend more time with this person?

Did she begin the meeting by encouraging you or telling you what to do? Did she ask questions, or wait to provide answers?

Did you leave the meeting feeling better about yourself? Was a connection made? If not, feel free to let the relationship go and seek out someone else, instead. You don’t have time to waste on a self-centered tyrant. If it went well, then immediately put together a follow-up plan.

Learn to follow up after the meeting. This is not like dating. It’s okay to appear overly ambitious. You want this person to know that you’re serious.

It’s appropriate to follow up immediately, thanking your prospective mentor for her time.

Allow the relationship evolve organically. We sometimes place too high of expectations on mentoring. We want to give it a name, because it gives us a sense of status and importance. But really it’s just a relationship. Mentoring is organic. It’s healthy to let it grow like any other relationship — over time and based on mutual respect and trust.

Don’t force it. That will kill a potential mentoring relationship faster than anything. Give it time; it needs to grow.

Good luck!


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