The mentor-apprentice relationship has worked well for thousands of years to transfer knowledge and skills. When you seek out someone who you admire and make yourself indispensable to that person, you will find yourself more motivated to learn.

If you want to be successful, you need to learn from successful people. The fastest way to mastering something is by seeking out a practicing master and learning directly from them.

That’s what makes the apprenticeship model of learning so powerful, especially in today’s fast-changing digital world, where it’s not what you know that’s important but demonstrating what you can do with your knowledge in a digital portfolio.

But the reality is that successful people are busy and they protect their time. This means you need to do your research and work diligently toward building a meaningful relationship with them. It won’t happen overnight but if you persist, you can build a relationship with nearly anyone you choose and from there you can pursue a deeper mentor-apprentice relationship.

Do Your Initial Research

You should start by asking yourself, why do I need a mentor? Try to identify what key area of your career or business that you want to improve. This will help you narrow your focus to the people who can actually help you achieve your goals.

Once you know exactly what you want and why you want it, you can start researching local entrepreneurs, authors, and experts on Google, LinkedIn or Twitter. If you can’t find anyone specific that you want to contact, search on Google for local events and conferences where you can meet successful people in your industry.

You may also want to join a professional networking group like BNI or you can search for local networking events on Eventbrite or MeetUp, where you will likely find hundreds of regular events in your community.

Ask Yourself: How Can I Provide Value

If you’re going to approach successful people, you can bet that they are busy and don’t have much time to waste. This is why you need to know what you want and also know what you have to give. The best mentor/mentee relationships are ones that are mutually beneficial.

If you’re young and inexperienced, you may think that you don’t have anything valuable to provide someone experienced. But if you spend some time thinking about what you’re good at and passionate about, I’m sure there is something you can offer. Perhaps you have a unique understanding of a new and disruptive technology or an emerging trend in business, or you know of someone you could refer to their business.

Ideally, you want to help people learn new things or connect them with others. If you’re connecting two people keep in mind that you want to make sure the connection will provide value to both parties involved. If you can provide people with valuable connections, they will remember you and they will likely reciprocate the favor in the future.

What’s important is that you need to know what you can offer that will provide value to a potential mentors life or business. The principle of reciprocity is huge in business. Judging by the sheer number of emails I get from complete strangers asking for favors, many people lack the understanding of the reciprocity principle to give before they take.

When you’re attending a networking event, challenge yourself to meet the most influential people in the room and find creative ways you can help them. You can start by asking them what is most important to them or what their biggest business challenges are. Skip the unnecessary small talk and ask them directly about why they do what they do and find out what inspires them.

You only get what you give, so don’t make it about you. Instead, try to be as helpful as possible and you’ll be amazed at the connections that you can develop in a short time.

Finding Successful People You Can Help

You’ll find at conferences and networking events that you will meet a lot of narcissistic people that only want to talk about themselves or their business. It’s best to avoid these people and not waste too much time talking with them.

Most people approach networking as a “taker” and they make it all about themselves and their needs. You want to take the reverse approach and make it all about the people you meet and how you be a “giver” that provides them with value. This will set you apart from everyone else and you will quickly establish rapport with people in a short conversation.

Successful people usually want to leave a legacy and they’re more than happy to help individuals who approach them in the right way. Once you’ve established rapport and provided them with something of value, you will find them much more receptive to helping you out.

Follow Up Immediately After Networking Events

After a networking event, I recommend that you send a quick e-mail or LinkedIn message within 48 hours to the most interesting people you met. Try to mention something about your conversation and let them know that you’d be interested in talking with them again in the future.

If you feel comfortable asking them right away to meet again for a coffee or lunch, I usually do this immediately to cut to the chase. Otherwise, do your research on them to better understand their position, what they can offer, and how you can continue to provide value to them. Google them. Look them up on LinkedIn. Follow them if they’re on Twitter. Comment on blog posts they put online so they know you’re serious about taking their advice.

The most important thing is if they provided you with good advice, whether directly or through what you’ve read from them online, put it into practice immediately. This way you can later follow up to tell them how you’ve applied their insights or advice. Nobody wants to mentor someone who doesn’t take action and follow through.

After doing your research and applying any advice that they have given you, you can try contacting them again. If you’re comfortable on the phone, it’s probably best to give them a call. If not an email will do. When contacting them make sure you have a specific reason for doing so. Ask them to meet for a coffee, lunch, or at an upcoming networking event.

A Good Mentor Will Change Your Life

You never know how the relationships you make networking can turn into genuine mentorship or apprenticeship opportunities. The important thing is to establish the connection, do your research on how you can provide them with value, and then approach your potential mentor by asking them for something specific that you want to learn from them.

You’ll be surprised at how taking this approach to seeking out a mentor or apprenticeship opportunity can change your life and career for the better. You won’t find the perfect mentor right away but with persistence, you’ll build meaningful relationships and eventually you’ll find someone who can make a huge impact in your life.

We all know how an exceptional teacher in high school or college can inspire us or transform our outlook on life. Developing a meaningful relationship with a valuable mentor can be just as life-changing and if they really like you they may want to hire you as their apprentice or invite you to collaborate on a new business opportunity.

Mentorship Resources To Explore:

Here are some online resources to explore to find mentorship and apprenticeship opportunities:

1. Score Mentors –  Find mentors for starting a business or building your career in over 300 locations across America.

2. Find A Mentor – An extensive mentorship resource also designed as a web matching service for mentors and mentees.

3. MicroMentor –  A program that connects entrepreneurs and mentors to build small businesses together.

4. Founder Institute – A non-profit institute with chapters in 100s of global cities that offers a structured, 4-month curriculum of weekly training courses and building-building assignments, as well as mentorship from successful entrepreneurs in your area.

5. F6S – A massive database of startup accelerator programs that you can apply to. If you want to build a startup, this is one of the most valuable resources you’ll find online.

6. Shapr – The “Tinder” for finding other professionals in your area and building a relationship with them over coffee or lunch.

7. Ripple – Another business networking app that was recently launched by former employees of the app Tinder.

8. Ten Thousand Coffees – Meet local business professionals in your area for coffee and unlock new opportunities and connections for your career.

9. BNI – A global organization dedicated to connecting local business professionals to work together and provide each other with referrals. Find your local chapter.

10. Toastmasters – A great way to build new professional relationships while building super important public speaking skills is through your local Toastmasters chapter.