The Ultimate Guide To Finding A Mentor of Your Own
What is Mentorship?
Do you know what mentorship is? If not, then no worries because I have got your back. Mentorship is a mutual relationship between two persons where the one with the lesser experience and know-how, learns from the other who has more experience. The one giving mentorship, the mentor, also often has more resources and connections than the one receiving it. The purpose is to help the lesser-experienced party or simply the mentee, to leverage the teachings, resources, and connections of the mentor to improve and better themselves on the aspect that they are receiving mentorship on.
Mentorship is a mutual relationship between two persons where the one with the lesser experience and know-how, learns from the other who has more experience.
Mentorship is often voluntary, that is, it is given freely with no monetary gains for the experienced person. The longevity and the success of the mentorship are determined by the willingness of both parties to actively participate. It is also versatile. This means that the path is not always straightforward. It can curve in and out, as long as it needs to, to accommodate the changing needs of the involved parties.
Furthermore, though career growth is the most popular area where mentorship is given, it can be extended to other various aspects of one’s life. These include spirituality, sports, character development, mental health, and cooking lessons. There is absolutely no limit to what are you get mentorship on. Quite a buffet, actually.
Moreover, in contrast to popular opinion, it is possible to receive mentorship from a younger person as long as they possess the three ingredients required for the growth of the mentee.
Who is a Mentor?
A mentor is someone who has agreed, often without requiring a form of payment, to share their experiences, tap into their resources and introduce you to their larger connections, in order to help you grow. They are willing to let you sneak a peek into their past successes and failures so that you can make more informed and better decisions when in the same or similar circumstances. Additionally, they will hardly enforce their ideologies on you and will instead, allow you to explore your own.
Oprah Winfrey simplifies even further;
“A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself” — Oprah Winfrey
Mentorship Vs Coaching?
I have been asked before if a mentor is the same as a coach, and if not, what are the differences? True that the structures in which mentorship and coaching are delivered are similar, but they still have their distinct differences.
Mentorship is offered voluntarily, but that is not the case with coaching. To involve a coach in whatever area that you need improvement, you have to pay for the service(s). Coaching is not free and I believe this the main difference between them.
Secondly, due to the monetary aspect that coaching demands, this relationship serves on time constraints, unlike mentorship which can go on for a longer time.
Thirdly, again due to the money and time constraints, coaching often serves immediate needs. There are specifically well-defined goals and deciding points to be achieved, which does not give the privilege to explore more alternative paths as mentorship does.
Finally, unlike mentorship, coaching demands that the coach be more actively involved with their client. This involves instructions, results, and feedback is given more frequently. In this relationship, the coach has a bigger responsibility to ensure their client achieves the set goals. Whereas in mentorship it is upon the mentee to do most of the work.
Famous People Who Have Attributed Part of Their Success to their Mentors
- Oprah Winfrey was mentored by Maya Angelou, a famous poet, and a three-time Grammy winner.
- Bill Gates, the second wealthiest person in the world, was mentored by Warren Buffet, a fellow top ten billionaire on the Forbes Billionaires List.
- Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, was mentored at one time by the late Steve Jobs, the visionary who led Apple to what it is today.
Can you think of any other? Add them onto your list!
Why Then Should You Bother Getting a Mentor Too?
If such incredibly prominent people could dare have mentors, then it means that there is something right about it. Though indulging mentors is entirely optional, having one gives you an extra edge in making it
This section seeks to answer why having a mentor is good for you. Literally, why you should immediately begin your search for one after you are done reading this article!
Imagine that you are going on a vacation to a new country. It will be your first time in that part of the world. Your best friend had happened to visit the same country the previous year and she wants to hop on a call with you to share a few things to keep in mind. The few things include the best trail routes to use during your scheduled hiking, the best place to convert your currency for reasonable rates, and affordable modes of transport to consider. Additionally, she will give you contacts for persons whom you can ask help from in possible emergencies. Will you decline or schedule the call? It is obvious which option you would take. Using this analogy, a mentor clearly functions as your best friend in this case.
A mentor possesses what you are currently lacking; experience in the given field. Whether you believe it or not, the road on which you are about to walk, a mentor has already walked on it. Their experience has made them aware of the likely successes, failures, and mistakes you would encounter along in your journey. In any viable strategy, foresight is an extremely meaningful weapon. It helps improve preparedness in certain circumstances, allows room for exploration, and eliminates the risk of blind ventures. A mentor’s experience fast-tracks your growth process compared to if you are going it alone.
2. Expanding Your Network/Connections
Have you heard of the saying, “Your network is your net worth”? I understand that you are a hardworking person. You are determined, have ambition, and most especially, self-reliant. You believe in doing everything by yourself and besides, you have made it this far without anybody’s help. That’s good, right?
But what if you could work smarter instead of harder? What if you had someone recommending you for an opportunity, with or without you knowing? Can you speculate being the first to know when an opportunity comes up?
Having a network of people who could in one way or the other, accelerate your growth bring you closer to your goals is definitely not a bad thing. If anything, it just makes your work easier. However, building the right network and growing it to a substantial size could take a long time which apparently, you do not have. Furthermore, knowing where to start is also not easy. It is for these reasons why it highly recommended for you to get a mentor.
A mentor, in the long journey of gathering their experience, has accumulated a significant circle of people who could possibly change your fate with a snap of their fingers. During interactions, a mentor will slowly but surely introduce to several persons whom they deem valuable to your mentorship. It could be a fellow workmate, a friend, their own mentor, an employer, a potential client, or someone whom they look up to. From there on, you could work towards establishing your own meaningful connections.
3. Somebody Speaking on your Behalf
In the second point, I have mentioned about having someone who could recommend you for an opportunity, with or without your knowledge. Having a person who can speak on your behalf is very important. It is as a matter of fact a must-have ingredient to your success. You need somebody who can vouch for you inside boardrooms that you have never set foot in, on phone calls that you were never present for, and in the golf clubs when you have never played golf in your life. Having that person who knows and understands your strengths and weaknesses and is determined to see you succeed is the best favor that you do yourself.
Mentors often play the role of speaking on your behalf. They will recommend you to their friends for new roles and opportunities. One word from your mentor could give you an audience with a potential investor if you are looking to get funding. A mentor can simply bring your wildest dreams on a silver platter while catching up with an old friend over a bottle of beer. Oh, a huge chance you will never meet the said old friend!
Still not convinced? Check out this who is speaking on your behalf article by Prosper Otemuyiwa. Though it is tailored for technology enthusiasts, the lessons given apply across every genre and field under the sun.
Now, How Do you get a Person to Mentor You?
The main way through which you can a mentor of your own is to directly reach out to the person whose mentorship you want. You can do this by emailing, texting, calling, or by meeting them physically. For persons whom you know personally, I would recommend the last method, speaking to them face to face. But for someone who you are yet to meet, an email would be a great place to start as it is more formal and agreeable compare to texting and calling.
Whatever method you choose, the following steps will further increase your chances of receiving a YES from the potential mentor;
Step 1 — Do You Know Everything You Need to Know About This Person?
Find out as much as you can about the target person. In this day and age, you can virtually find out everything you need to know about the person, thanks to the internet. This can be understanding what it is they do, what projects they are currently working on, what has been their recent achievements (and failures), and who are the people they associate with. Having this information about them gives you a great conversation starter, and it also shows that you have done your assignment about knowing who they are.
Step 2 — What Makes This Person Right For You?
Are they the right fit for you? Anyone can be your mentor, but not everyone can give you the right mentorship, or rather, the one that you need. This applies especially when you have multiple candidates. Which aspect of their lives or careers do you need to learn from? It would not make sense to be seeking a marketing analyst when you are looking for a coding mentorship as a junior developer.
Anyone can be your mentor, but not everyone can give you the right mentorship
Step 3 — Define Your Objectives In Getting A Mentor:
This should probably be number one. Anyways, what is it that you are doing and how are you doing it? What do you hope to gain from mentorship and how can the person in question help you achieve that? Can you give context to your story?
Step 4 — What Value Can You Add to the Potential Mentor’s Life?
Most of the time, mentors are willing to give mentorship freely without any expectations of payback whatsoever from the mentee. However, in this modern age, humans are busier than ever. This means that the person whose mentorship you want is bogged down with work and chaotic schedules. Moreover, they are perhaps being sent similar requests such as yours on a daily basis. Therefore, whatever little time they can spare for another human being for free has to be thoroughly scrutinized to ensure their time is worthwhile.
To stand out from the crowd, look for pain points in their lives, and provide a solution while delivering your humble request. Find out what value you can add to their life in case they agree to mentor you.
After completing the above steps, all that remains now is to package all your findings in a nice short pitch, add some courage, and ask them. Your request does not have to be perfect. But ensure that it communicates enough to tell the potential mentor, why you specifically need their mentorship, how you want them to help you, and what you hope to achieve as a result. There is no need for fear because the worst response you can get is a NO!
Where Do You Find and Meet Mentors?
The number of places where you can find mentors is limitless. It all depends on who you are looking for. Below I have listed a few common places:
1. Internet and Social Media Platforms
Google Search is literally the most important tool of our time, and in your case, quite an indispensable one. You can find anyone and everyone who can mentor you in the next phase of your journey. It can be pretty overwhelming, thus it is advisable to narrow down your list to a specific niche so as to get only the relevant results.
Moreover, social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook have made it even easier to identify, follow, and reach out to potential mentors. They have provided an opportunity to understand them in real-time via their posts, the people they follow, and their own following. Furthermore, you can communicate with them by engaging with their posts, making comments, and also direct messaging them. Again, these platforms have millions of users. Facebook alone has over two billion users. Therefore, you need to be very specific and clear on whom you are looking for otherwise you get sucked into the labyrinth.
2. Social Meetup and Events
These include conferences, café hangouts, local meetups, and even weddings. The idea is to first the type of mentor you are looking for. Who are they and what do they do? What social settings are they likely to be present? This greatly helps you to be especially particular with the events you choose to attend.
3. Mentorship Programs
In recent years, there have been numerous programs specifically tailored to give mentorship to various groups of people including boot camps. Others include mentorship as a package in scholarship programs. Personally, I have a beneficially of such a forum through KamiLimu. If there are any similar programs that you can apply to, take the chance to do so. If accepted, you will automatically have access to mentors who are involved in the running of the program.
Hooray! You have made it to the end!
What tips have worked for you in getting mentors? Do you have any questions, suggestions, or comments? Feel free to let me know in the comments section below.