Finding and Nurturing Mentors
Published: March 11, 2011
After my last blog post, Jill asked how to establish and nurture mentor relationships. First, I think it’s important to state that what has worked for me isn’t necessarily what works for everybody. Personally, I have found over the years that it’s difficult to approach someone you don’t know and ask him/her to be your mentor.
I believe that you need to get to know the person first and truly understand what they do before you can establish a trusted relationship. For example, if I recognize that someone is good at managing money, this person would most likely provide sound financial advice. I have mentors who help me with personal development and others who help me with different facets of my career. I have people I look to for sales advice, leadership advice and lots of other areas of my life.
I’ve gotten to know each of them through different aspects of my life, like sitting on a civic board, attending events or volunteering for the same cause. This is a great way to begin shared experiences, which I believe is the foundation for a good mentor relationship.
Once you establish a solid connection, ask the person to meet you for coffee or lunch, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Over time, you build a rhythm to the relationship and cultivate it on a regular basis – maybe it’s monthly or even quarterly. Trust is established and then you are able to ask more sensitive or difficult questions and get a deeper level of advice.
The biggest piece of advice I can offer is to find a mentor who will be totally honest with you. You want someone who isn’t afraid to disagree with you, tell you when you’re being an idiot and hold you accountable. True mentorship is about building mutual trust and respect.