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written from an RV park in Vancouver Washington, intended for my LinkedIn profile (so it’s more “bussinessy”)
Mentors are a great support system for any entrepreneur or creative person. I’ve had several over the last few years who have called me out and helped me make less mistakes. They challenge my thought process and encourage me to keep going.
This post is for anyone looking to keep great mentors in your life. If you feel like you have a solid foundation of mentorship, feel free to stop reading here.
First of all, let’s define what a mentor really is: A mentor is someone who is willing to share wisdom about their journey and help guide you in your own. Essentially, mentorship is learning about someone else’s mistakes so you can limit your own.
One problem a lot of people deal with when it comes to mentorship is understanding what the relationship is supposed to look like. A mentor is not a person you have to meet with on Mondays and Wednesdays. The easiest way to scare off potential advice is to ask a mentor to commit to meeting on a regular basis.
Don’t feel like a mentor relationship should be formal.
Most of the time, mentor relationships will be sporadic. You meet a few times a year, maybe. No one relationship is the same, that’s important to remember. Other mentor and mentee relationships may be email only. You could even consider an author or blogger a mentor of yours. They still qualify as someone who is sharing life advice and helping you on your journey.
Once you find someone willing to sit down and have a cup of coffee with you. Here are some tips on how to keep them around.
- Put their advice into action– If you receive wisdom from a mentor and do nothing with it, it’s a slap in the face to them. Why did you waste their time? This person took time out of their day to help you. Don’t let them down. You already took the initiative to learn from them, now take action.
- Be respectful- If you ask a mentor to coffee, try to talk 1/10 as much as they do. You are there to listen, not brag about how much you know. A lot of times they may repeat something you already know. Don’t try to interject them and say “I already know that”. Instead, listen thoroughly to what they have to say and be respectful. Most mentors will give you adequate time to talk when it’s time to hear your story. Be patient.
- Understand their time is valuable– Be on time. You should always be early if you’re meeting with a mentor. It’s a subtle message that says, “I’m excited to be here and respect your time.” A great way to start off any relationship.
- Ask good questions– Most mentors will ask me at the end of our meeting, “What can I do for you?” Be prepared with a short, actionable request of which they have the power to really help you with. Try to keep your request in two sentences or less. “I would like to connect with John Jacobs, who I noticed you’re connected to on LinkedIn. Would you mind making an introduction?” This is an example of a simple request. Other times, you may just want their advice. Make sure your question is relevant and is something they can actually help out with. If they blog, make sure to read some of their posts first and see if you can find an answer before wasting their time.
- Listen- This should be self explanatory. But really stay engaged and listen to what they have to say. They took a piece of their time and gave it to you. The least you can do is hang on their every word.
- Keep them updated with your progress- If someone has taken the time to invest in you, they like to see how far you’ve come. Send them an update every once and awhile and it will let them know they’ve made a difference.