What is the best approach for seeking professional mentors?
To be a more effective mentor, I want to expand my information base as I think others may have more experience on the mechanics of this aspect of business and self-development.
What are realistic expectations regarding the structure of the relationship? What can one do to contribute to the mentor so the relationship is balanced? Are there materials, articles, links, etc. that could inform?
Anything you provide is much appreciated because I know your time is valuable.
There are some valuable responses and I thank you all for contributing your knowledge to address this question. This helps others in our network who may have wondered about this subject; it's part of my intent whenever I pose a question on here, actually.
Depends on your agreement or how far you are willing to go to mentor and grow the mentee. For some people, I go all the way and make them like family, some i keep it strictly business and most times it ends when they achieve what they want.
Several years ago, there was a TV show called "Six Degrees". The essence of the show was that anybody could "contact" anyone else, any place in the world, by directly or indirectly talking with only 6 people. So it is with you establishing your network of professional mentors.
First, clearly define the expertise you are seeking. Be as specific as you need to be. And while doing this, establish the number or mentors you wish to have.
Then, within that discipline, ask those you personally know who they know who have the expertise you are seeking; don't be surprised if they recommend themselves, and that is good.
Follow up on all leads, exploring written articles or formal presentations from those leads. Then, ask the source of that particular lead to introduce you to your target mentor, and then attempt to build a genuine relationship with each lead. Ask the new leads who they know who is an expert in the area of expertise you are seeking. (Again, they may identify themselves as an expert, but let them declare that themselves. If they state they are one of the world's experts, great - your already know them; build on that relationship while being clear to yourself and with them on what you desire from that professional relationship. There may be reasons they do not wish to share their expertise with you, in which case they'll likely suggest someone else as an expert.)
Quite quickly, you will be led to one or more of the world's top experts in the area of expertise you are seeking. Always establish a relationship with these individuals first, and then talk about what you professionally desire and what, in turn, you can contribute.
Darryl, the above process should be deliberate, not just some casual activity to be worked in as time and desire guides. Once you have acquired your desired number of mentors, your initial task has been completed. But then, continue to maintain and build each professional relationship. And don't be surprised if additional mentors are discovered through these original mentoring relationships.
One side note to consider. It has been stated that if a person reads 1 meaningful book each month in the area in which they are striving to become an expert, within 1 year along with practical application, they too will start to become an expert in that area of expertise.
Best Wishes to you Darryl.
Identify one that you would like to mentor you and simply reach out and ask. Many professionals are willing to help by way of giving back if there is a good match between the mentor and the candidate and there is real value to be derived by each side. Another way to identify a mentor and volunteer to work for them/with them for a specific period at no cost. You should take great care if you select the mentor in your discipline that you are not in the same competitive business market.
The best approach for seeking a mentor is to identify people who are doing what you want to do.
As @Hubert McCloud points out - "Find someone that is going in the direction you want to go in. Those that have achieved what you want to do will be the best person to advise you how to best achieve your goal."
The realistic expectations regarding the structure of a mentor/mentee relationship can
be realised through a mutual need to discover, learn and share experiences though a set of predefined goals and actions.
A successful mentor/mentee relationship should be fulfilling and beneficial for all involved therefore, it is through this expectation that the relationship is realised.
@Scott H. Zucker also makes an important point - Most people tend to think mentoring implies a one-sided relationship where the mentor is doing all the giving. On the contrary, it is a sharing and nurturing process from both parties.
Despite their busy schedules, there are still people who will offer their time for free. I have been a mentor for over 15years. I am and will forever be grateful for those who gave their time, shared their knowledge, expertise, guided me, challenged me and allowed me to challenge them too. I now mentor five of my mentors. Truth is, it can be difficult to find the right people.
The mechanics of self-development lies in the application of new thinking.
Time is valuable but offers more value when shared.
Hope this helps and feel free to connect if I can be of further help.
Fortunately, musicians don't have to sell themselves past the point
of creating an awesome end-product...if you like what I do, and it
speaks to you somehow, then I'd be happy to share what I do, and
how I got here, with you!
What do you want from a mentor yourself?
In my opinion, the mentee drives the meetings and the show. The mentor is there for helpful consult. But it is the mentee's responsibility to outline the agenda, line up their questions, and do the research of the mentor.
The mentor should outline how much they are willing to provide in the way of advise. But the mentee should be the one doing the work.
Most times the mentor isn't being paid for their time and expertise - therefore, the mentee should respect their valuable time and attention. I agree with the above comments about buying the mentor lunch or breakfast.
The spark and "sweat-equity" needs to come from the mentee.
When the mentor is the one giving the "spark" and motivation - he/she is now a coach -- AND they should be paid for that service.
As a mentor, I set out the rules of engagements i.e. how we are going to proceed, confidentiality, expectation, commitment etc.
The mentee can assist or even coach the mentor in his or her area of expertise. He oe she can offer to do some research work for the mentor, buy breakfast or lunch, etc
Lots of materials on mentoring, just google it. Or check out my blog postings at:
Find someone that is going in the direction you want to go in. Those that have achieved what you want to do will be the best person to advise you how to best achieve your goal. As you grow continue to look for mentors that are achievers and not those that do not have the track record. Just like we as humans, as children we eat baby food, as we get older we learn to handle solid foods. The same is for a mentor!
Most people I want to learn from are really busy and wouldn't consider being a mentor if asked. Mentorship tends to imply a one-sided relationship where the mentor is doing all the giving. Since you can't be an expert in everything, I find it much more valuable to offer to help someone that I would like to learn from (i.e. loosely called the mentor). I provide them with some value that I can offer, for example Social Media expertise, and then as part of the dialog I ask them a framed question that taps into their experience. Since its only a question and since I offered to help them, most people will be happy to provide the information due to the "norm of reciprocity". Remember I just helped them. I usually follow-up with something like, "If I have other questions in this arena, would you be willing to talk to me?". Even if they are super-busy, most will agree. This forms the basis of a give-and-take relationship that can evolve into a true long term relationship. I like to think of this as "Mentor Barter". I provide value to them, they provide value to me. No cash changes hands, but knowledge does.