By BRADY RIESGRAF
April 3, 2019
Everybody has that someone that they want to learn from. That one person that you wish you could just sit down to lunch with, grab a coffee, or just get them on the phone for 30 minutes to pick their brain. The first fact is, you can make this happen, for anyone. The second fact is, most people don’t believe that fact #1 can happen, so they never try. Well I am here today to tell you that you can make that relationship with anyone, and if you really want to, you can be sitting in front of (or at least on the phone or emailing with) the mentor of your dreams.
There are two problems with this outwardly simple situation of finding an incredible mentor. The first I stated above, which is that individuals don’t believe that they can somehow manage to get a meeting with the best, maybe because the mentor is too far away (distance), is too successful (imposter syndrome), or simply because he or she is in a subject area that you don’t know much about. These are all components that can be overcome, whether you believe it or not. Now the second problem may be the more pressing problem, and that is that individuals don’t see the massive importance of having a steady mentor in your life. People think that “mentors” are only for individuals that are lacking in a certain area, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Mentors are for individuals that are looking to enhance their lives. Being mentored or finding a mentor is not at all a sign of weakness, but it shows that you are looking to bring your life to the next level. Mentors are critical to developing a successful life for yourself, and they are possible to find once you start looking, so let’s get those two points straight right now.
Today, we want to talk about the process of finding a mentor (because everyone needs at least one in their life) and then once you find that mentor, how to keep the relationship strong and flourishing. Finding a mentor that is a great fit is not always easy, and it takes time, but it is absolutely essential to learning new skills and developing yourself as a person. Once you do find a mentor, many individuals think that one meeting is enough, but in all reality, you should be meeting with your mentor on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis in order to continuing to learn and grow and get the most out of the relationship. So, we want to help you find the mentor of your dreams, and then, keep that relationship for weeks, months, and years to com. Whether you want to sit down with the owner of your local coffee shop, someone you are impressed by at the office, the entrepreneur that you are have always wanted to learn from, or Bill Gates himself, we are going to give you the plan to make it happen. So, without taking any more time, let’s start the journey to finding the mentor that can change your life. Enjoy.
Here are 6 Tips to Finding a Mentor & Making the Connection Last:
Before you do anything in this process, you need to figure out who it is you want to get in touch with. Sometimes it is helpful to look at the bigger picture and see what area you want to learn about or further develop in your life. It may be a hobby, it may be a skill, or it might be developing yourself in your profession. Whatever the case, figure out the given subject area you want to learn about, and this will help you start the search for the individual that you want to meet with. Also, it is important to recognize that mentoring relationships do not always have to be for professional purposes. There may be someone in your life or a certain skill that you want to learn about just because, and that is just as important as creating a business relationship. Obviously, many times it will be for professional development, but don’t forget that mentorship can be for any reason you choose, and it doesn’t always have to be strictly for professional purposes.
Maybe you already have someone in mind, or you now narrowed it down to the person you want to meet with. Whatever the case, this is the exciting part. Getting in contact with the mentor of your dreams is all about the way you try and get in contact with. There are going to be some individuals that are best to get ahold of by email, others might warrant a phone call, while some may be best to send a letter, and others might be best to just approach in person. Regardless of the case, this is the part where you need to figure out what kind of person you are trying to meet with, how busy they are, and how much you know the person. In many instances, if you know the person and see them on a regular basis, it would probably be best to simply go right up and ask. However, the more you go up the ranks and work to meet with busier individuals the more you will have to use other forms of communication. This is also sometimes where you need to get creative because you will not always have someone’s phone number or email address. Emailing a secretary, guessing multiple different emails based on company standard email addresses (email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, etc.), and asking other individuals that are connected to your mentor to connect you are all appropriate means to get that first connection. Now this is not at all to say that you should be rude or obtrusive to an individual’s family or personal time, but you may need to get creative when trying to reach out to very busy or highly successful individuals.
This one is extremely important. Now I know you’re thinking, “I won’t get discouraged by one no”, well for those of you that aren’t like the rest of the population and hate to hear no then good for you. For everyone else that doesn’t like the sound of no, you’ll probably have to get used to it here. And “no” isn’t exactly a “no” in this situation. Many times, especially if you are reaching out to someone that gets hundreds or thousands of emails a day, you will likely get utter silence. It’s very hard to get through to someone on the first try, so don’t get discouraged here. Those in sales may know this, but the average time for someone to buy a product online is after 8-10 interactions. 8 to 10. That is way more than most people think, but it’s true. It takes time to get to yes in anything in life, and you need to remember that you will get no’s and you will get no responses. Keep pushing on and following-up, sooner or later you will have the meetings of your dreams.
Simple but easy. This is one that I use every time I am trying to set up a mentorship or just a single meeting. Offering to pay for something (even if it is as small as a $2.00 coffee) shows the other individual that you are truly invested in meeting with them. It costs you next to nothing (even a lunch can be around $10-15) and it seems to work more often than not. And a small disclaimer, 95% percent of the time you won’t end up having to pay (especially if you are a student), but the offer itself shows a lot. This is not to say that you should offer to pay if you are unwilling to in the first place, I am just saying that that small cost of a coffee (or offering to buy a coffee) will pay for itself in no time. Just keep it in mind.
This also seems simple, but many people forget to do it. Once you have the meeting of your lifetime, always follow up. We’ve talked about this in another blog, but it cannot be overstated, so we’re telling you again. Whether it is a hand-written card (always the best play if you have an address or can drop it off somewhere) or it’s a quick email, always, always, always, make sure to follow up. It shows individuals that you respect and value their time, and it also provides you the opportunity to make a schedule of meetings for the future. Whatever is your method, make sure to follow up and thank the individual, it will set you apart from the rest of the pack.
This is a piece of advice to keep in mind when finding a mentor and having these meetings. Not every meeting will be your diamond in the rough. I repeat, not every meeting is going to be amazing. However, that’s all part of the process. By having these informational interviews / meetings with individuals, you will see the ones that you are immensely impressed by and intrigued with, and others you will have less interest in. There’s nothing wrong with that. As you go through this process you will find those that you naturally are attracted to, and that’s exactly what you want to find. That is what helps show you your passions, your true calling in life, and what you are meant to do. Whether the meeting is good or bad, there is always opportunities to learn, so learn what you can from each meeting, keep what you are interested in, and throw out the rest.
Hopefully a few of these tips and tricks will help you land your first big meeting. Whether you are reaching out to find a mentor for the first time or are getting back into the swing of mentorship, this blog should help get you there. Reaching out to individuals you don’t know that you want to learn from is often uncomfortable, but it is necessary in order to get the most of your life. If you want to learn from others, step over the mistakes they made, and jumpstart your life, mentorship is the way to do this. We know you are already probably on top of this, but these are good reminders and tips to help you get your next mentor and next meeting. As always, let us know if you have any other tips or tricks that help you get your meetings and share them with us so we can continue to build and grow alongside all of you. Both good and bad, let us know how your meetings go, what works best, what doesn’t work, and what has helped you land your biggest meetings. Whatever the case, we want to hear your stories and how you are utilizing these steps and tips in your everyday life. Keep growing, learning, and being successful, we can’t wait to see everything you accomplish.