Earlier this week, I wrote about asking people for help and gave a couple of my reasons as to why asking friends and family might not necessarily be the best way to go about obtaining constructive feedback.
To put it simply: Don’t ask people with no experience for advice on what you should be doing.
So whilst family and friends are great for emotional support we’ve eliminated them from the list of people you should be asking for business advice from.
The question we’re left with is “Who do we approach next?”
This is your opportunity to pick the brains of some extremely knowledgeable professionals but remember, they have to accept your request first.
We’ll talk more about how to ask later but for now, let’s focus on choosing your mentor.
It’s easy for us to get caught in the trap of seeking out mentorship from someone who personifies our idea of success. We look to business leaders, solopreneurs, famous people and people who, frankly, don’t have time for people like us.
Let’s face it, these people are likely already far too busy to teach how to get better at our craft, and while it doesn’t hurt to ask, it really pays to do some digging for a mentor who actually has time to spare for you.
“I was mentored by ‘so and so famous person’” is a great little caveat to take into a conversation but it holds very little weight compared to the value you actually took from them. Good mentorship doesn’t come with the name that is attached to it but rather the experience and wisdom they’re willing to share with you.
When looking for a mentor, seek out people who have the job title or experience that you aspire to have. Keep your head on this step, though. If you have little to no experience and you approach someone at the very top of your industry, you’re going to be out of your depth. Don’t underestimate yourself but be careful not to shoot yourself in the foot in the process. A general rule of thumb is one or two positions above your current role.
If your company has a mentorship programme, it might be worth enrolling on that. If not, explain your situation to a friend in your professional network and ask them to connect you with an appropriate member of their team who might be willing to take you under their wing.
Make sure, whoever you choose, you are both able to make contact without any hassle. If meeting with you becomes a chore, there is the chance that, unless you’re paying them, they’re going to put their focus on something more productive. The personal connection you make with your mentor is far more important than your need to boost your ego by working with someone with influence on the other side of the planet. Keep it as local as you can when starting out and you’ll likely have better luck getting help as, and when, you need it.
In my experience, it’s always better –and easier– to establish a connection with your mentor when they’re able to invest time into your success on a regular basis, whether they approach you with advice or you approach them with a question.
Check in tomorrow for advice on the best ways we can ask people to be our mentors.