Mark Zuckerberg considers Steve Jobs a mentor. Bill Gates mentioned Warren Buffet as a mentor. Maya Angelou mentored Oprah Winfrey. Sheryl Sandberg was mentored by her college professor Larry Summers. Tony Robbins even had mentors of his own. None of these powerful people would have gotten where they are today without the guidance of someone who had been there before. They knew the secrets of how to get a mentor, and you can, too.
Oprah said, “A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.” It can be someone you work with, someone you meet through networking or even someone you follow on social media or whose content inspires you. Tony Robbins has mentored millions through his content, events, Results Coaching and more. The important thing about a mentor is that they inspire you to achieve – and give you the real-life advice you need to take action.
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Why do I need to get a mentor?
If you want to get ahead in your current profession, make connections and learn insider information that can give you a head start on the competition, you need to find a mentor. Business mentors are one of the most common types, but mentors can help you get ahead in any field, from writing to politics to engineering and computer science. Mentors can also help you start your own business or take a new product to market. Actors and entertainers have discovered the power of getting a mentor, as have sports stars and more.
Those who are just starting out often need a mentor – college students and professors are a mentor pairing as old as time and doctors’ residencies are a form of mentorship as well. If you are just starting out, it is essential that you learn how to get a mentor, but a trusted advisor can also help you at any time in your life. Hit a roadblock in your career? Can’t seem to smash that glass ceiling? Just want to try a new career path? Mentors provide invaluable guidance in all of these situations.
How to get a mentor
Start by asking yourself the right questions to determine the mentor you need. Put yourself out there to find role models. Follow these steps, and you’ll find a mentor who is right for you.
1. Determine your needs
Getting a mentor who is aligned with your needs for personal growth is a vital step. A mentor cannot give advice – at least not good advice – about a problem that they haven’t solved themselves. Ask yourself why you want to find a mentor. Have you set a specific goal? For example, if you want to start a dental practice or build a real estate business, find someone with expertise in those industries. If you want to better innovate, find a visionary.
Looking for more ideas on where to find a mentor? You can join a mastermind group or industry organization of people who you can learn from and work with. Seasoned professionals in your industry have “seen it all” – and have certainly made plenty of mistakes along the way. Their expertise can protect you from making those same mistakes. Get a mentor who has what you want in life. They can help you earn what they have.
2. Create the opportunity
When you’re considering how to get a mentor, don’t just make a list and start calling people. Getting a mentor is about building relationships. Most people have potential mentors around them – college professors, higher-level executives or employees at your workplace. But what if you’re an entrepreneur?
How to find a mentor is a top question for entrepreneurs. Don’t be afraid to think outside the boardroom. Professional networking events are an excellent way to make connections that could lead to mentorships. Join a gym near the businesses in your town or check out early-morning yoga classes before the workday begins. Volunteer a skill that will allow you to meet like-minded professionals, such as event planning or digital media.
3. Find the right person
Once you know what type of mentor you need and you’ve created the opportunities to meet this person, it’s time to narrow down your options. These traits make the difference between a good mentor and a great one:
- They are not threatened by your success; they are proud of it.
- They don’t try to compete with you; they lift you up.
- They are not just interested in your success, but completely invested in it. When you succeed, they succeed.
- They know how to motivate you and challenge you to achieve more.
- They see areas for improvement and are completely honest with you, but are always respectful.
- They don’t push you to fit a certain mold or to be more like them. Great mentors recognize your personal strengths and help you use them to become successful.
- They are trustworthy – a mentor’s advice is only good if you trust them enough to take it.
4. Ask in the right way
Once you’ve chosen a potential mentor, you need to ask them if they are willing to work with you – and you must do it in the right manner. Remember, they are doing you a favor by taking time out of their busy schedule to meet with you. Don’t immediately make a big ask, like requesting they meet with you weekly for a year. Instead, just ask if you can take them for coffee or lunch. Be gracious and work with their schedule and don’t get impatient or demanding.
5. Evaluate the fit
Just because a mentor looks good on paper doesn’t mean your fit is guaranteed. When you find a mentor, you need to spend some time with them before you can decide if they are the right match. You may not know during the first meeting whether you connect successfully – it may take several meetings to know for sure. During this time, be aware of how this person makes you feel. Do they listen deeply to you or do they spend the entire time talking about themselves? Are they supportive or dismissive of your dreams? When your time with them ends, are you energized or disheartened?
6. Follow up
Whether you decide to pursue a potential person as a mentor or not, it’s up to you to follow up after your initial meeting. Always thank them for the opportunity to talk with them and for their time. If you think it’s a good fit, request another meeting. If you don’t, be honest and move on. When you find a mentor you deeply connect with, consider a hand-written card or small gift to accompany your ask for a continued partnership. This will show them you acknowledge the importance of your request and that you value them.
7. Commit to the partnership
When you find a mentor, you have to commit to working with them. This means making your meeting with them a priority and at least considering all their suggestions and advice. Whether you’re discussing the creation of a personal growth plan or how to be more assertive, you need to be ready for difficult discussions and not give up when things get tough. Remember, you wanted to learn how to get a mentor so you could change and grow – and growth does not happen without at least some discomfort.
Some people compare finding a mentor to dating because in the end it’s a personal match. The mentor that is right for your coworker or friend may not be right for you. Many people have trouble finding that perfect match, and that’s okay. Mentors come in more than one form.
Some people compare finding a mentor to dating, because in the end it’s a personal match. The mentor that is right for your coworker may not be right for you. Many people have trouble finding that perfect match, and that’s OK. Mentors come in more than one form.
How to find a mentor in the digital world
In today’s digital world, all you really need to find a mentor is an internet connection and a computer. Online mentorship networks make it easy to find your match without making someone feel obligated to agree to your request. In these networks, you’ll know the mentors you find are willing to put in the time and effort – that’s why they signed up in the first place.
You can also use social media to find a mentor, but you still need to build the relationship. First, make sure they are someone who engages with their audience online, and start by following their social media, commenting and re-posting their content. Contribute to the conversation with your own thoughts and expertise and offer original content to get the mentorship started.
Want to know where to find a mentor who you can be sure fulfills all the requirements of a great teacher? Tony Robbins’ Results Coaching uses proven methods to help you achieve your goals not just in business, but in life. Coaches create individual game plans that inspire and empower you to take action. If you’re not growing, you’re dying, and our Results Coaches will get you back on track – and make sure you stay there.
No matter what method you choose, the coaching of a mentor can truly change the trajectory of your career. It’s time you find your own Warren Buffet to take your life to the next level.