The mentor-mentee relationship has been used for thousands of years to transfer knowledge and skills. These relationships persist because they get results.
The process of seeking out someone whom you admire, and learning directly from their coaching and mentorship, is the best way I’ve found for staying motivated to achieve challenging goals.
If you want to become a master of your craft, your development accelerates when you follow the advice, mindset and personal examples of the successful people who came before you.
Why You Must Learn From Practising Masters:
The fastest way to master something is to seek out practising masters who don’t just teach but are also actively doing their craft.
In today’s fast-changing world, theories and assumptions must be regularly applied and tested to be validated. The reality is that many teachers who don’t actively practise their craft end up teaching yesterday’s solutions to today’s problems.
That’s why the advice of practising masters is so valuable. If you want to acquire a difficult new skill as quickly as possible, the best way to learn is through a close relationship where you can model the behavior of a practising master.
As you can imagine, the most successful practising masters are busy people and they manage their time carefully. This means you need to do your research and work diligently and strategically to build a meaningful relationship with them.
It won’t happen overnight but if you approach the mentorship relationship with emotional intelligence and persist over time, you can build a relationship with nearly anyone you choose. Many people give up too soon and persistence speaks to your character.
Once a relationship has been established, you can get creative and find mutually beneficial ways to help each other. The fact is that many of the best and brightest people want to give back but a master only appears when the student is ready.
1. Do Your Research:
You should start by asking yourself, why do I need a mentor?
Try to identify one key area of your livelihood or business that you want to improve. This will help you narrow your focus to the potential mentors who can help you achieve your goals.
Once you know exactly what you want to achieve and why, you can start researching local entrepreneurs, authors, and inspiring people with the expertise you need on Google, LinkedIn or Twitter.
If you can’t find anyone that you really want to contact, search on Google for local events and conferences where you can meet successful people in your field.
2. Always Give Before You Take:
This is something that many people don’t do. I usually get 5-10 emails a day from complete strangers that ask me for favours before they’ve even introduced themselves.
I get a great many more emails like this for every person that thoughtfully provides some value and properly introduces themselves before they ask for a favour.
If you’re going to approach successful people, you can bet that they are busy and don’t have time to waste with people who don’t value their time.
You must know exactly what you want and be able to demonstrate how you can give back. The best mentor/mentee relationships are always the ones that are mutually beneficial.
If you’re young and inexperienced, you may think that you don’t have anything valuable to offer someone who is more experienced. If you spend some time contemplating what you’re good at and most passionate about, no doubt you can find something to offer.
Perhaps you have an uncommon understanding of a new and disruptive technology, you’re involved in an emerging trend in business, or you know someone in your personal network that you could refer to your potential mentor.
There is a lot of knowledge and know-how that people of different generational mindsets can share with each other in a mutually beneficial way.
3. Create Real Connections That Last:
Business has always been and still is based on relationships.
Ironically, today’s mainstream culture relies on texting and social media more than talking on the phone and meeting people in person, which means that many people lack the necessary skills to form authentic business connections.
That’s a major liability in today’s connection-based economy.
The most successful people and the best entrepreneurs are those who cultivate long-term relationships.
You can begin a meaningful connection with a prospective mentor by clearly communicating what you can do for them in exchange for their help and ideally also finding a creative way to demonstrate it.
It’s important to follow the reciprocity principle. People typically want to reciprocate with gifts that are of comparable value. Ideally, you want to help your potential mentor learn new things, grow their own business or activity, or connect with others.
If you’re connecting two people, keep in mind that you want to make the connection provide value to both parties. If you can provide people with valuable connections, they will remember you and return the favour when you need it.
When you’re attending a networking event, challenge yourself to meet the most influential people in the room and find creative ways to engage (and maybe help) them.
You can start by asking them what is most important to them or what are their biggest business challenges. Skip the awkward and unnecessary small talk and hook their attention by asking them directly why they started their business and what makes them want to get out of bed in the morning.
This helps establish some common ground on which you can build a relationship.
4. Find Successful People In Your Community:
To engage experienced people at conferences or parties you should try to be a “giver” who provides them with some information of value at initial contact.
This will set you apart from the crowd and establish rapport with smart people in a short conversation.
Successful people usually want to leave a legacy and they’re generally happy to help individuals who approach them in the right manner.
Once you’ve established rapport and provided them with something of value, you will find them more receptive to helping you out and spending some of their valuable time with you.
5. Follow Through Is Critical
When you meet someone who sparks your interest, I recommend that you send a quick e-mail or LinkedIn message within 24 hours This shows hustle, which all busy people will appreciate.
Good communication skills today means sending and replying to emails promptly Never wait more than 24 hours to reply to important emails.
In your email, refer to something from your previous 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, then offer to buy it for them. That makes it a lot harder for them to say no.
Before you write your email, you should Google them and browse their website, read their story and learn about their career path and current position on LinkedIn.
6. Mentorship Only Works If You Take Action
If your potential mentor is an active content creator, you should comment on a blog post or video they put online so they know you’re serious about learning more from them and taking their advice to heart.
If they provide you with good advice, whether directly or through what you’ve read from them online, put it into practice immediately. This demonstrates that you have a high level of commitment and that you’re someone who won’t waste their time.
By taking action, you can follow up and tell them how you’ve applied their insights or advice. Nobody will want to mentor someone for long who doesn’t take action and follow through on their advice.
After doing your research and applying any advice that they have given you, you can follow up with them again to continue building the relationship.
If you’re comfortable on the phone, it’s usually best to give them a call. If that’s not your thing then an email is better than nothing. When contacting a potential mentor be sure to explain a specific reason for doing so. To continue the conversation you can ask them to meet for a coffee, lunch, or at an upcoming networking event.
7. A Good Mentor Can Be A Game Changer
You never know if the relationships you make in networking will turn into genuine mentorship, apprenticeship or work opportunities.
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 well taking this approach will give you the structure, accountability and support you need to achieve your goals and realize your aspirations.
Even the best athletes and entrepreneurs work regularly with coaches to consistently improve their mental game.
There are few things more powerful in this world than a great mentorship-mentee relationship.
You may not find the perfect mentor right away but with persistence, you will 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 and even transform our outlook on life. Some people are complete game-changers.
Follow these steps and you can find the mentor you desire.