Here are 7 ways to get the mentorship that you want:
I really think that mentorship and networking are just hot ideas people think they need for growing their careers but don't truly understand how it works.
Do you envision having one very senior, highly experienced, all-knowing mentor whom you grab coffee with once a week? During this coffee or call do they spew knowledge at you, they advocate for you, and they know exactly what actionable steps you need to take in your career without you even asking?
It doesn't work like that. The rest of this post will debunk all the things you believe mentorship is.
As for now, do you spend enough time thinking about where you want to go in your career and the things you need help with in order to get there? Do you know a list of people who are where you want to be?
If you don't know what you want to do, do you know the right steps to figure out how to figure out what you want? For example, talking to who was once in your place and is now in a place you might want to be? What do you need to know to make a decision?
Gain some clarity by first building a dream mentor list of people you'd love to learn from and a list of specific questions for each one.
Whether you're just building your question list or have an opportunity to ask someone that could potentially mentor you, it's important to be specific in your asks.
"In your experience, what is the best course hosting platform if my budget is under $1000/year?" vs. "Will you mentor me on my online business?"
"I would love to hear your experience on how you got a job at Google?" vs. "I know that you came from a consulting background, similar to where I am now, what factors did you consider when deciding to transition into the tech industry from consulting? What transferrable skills did you highlight in your interview process?"
Which person shows more promise as a mentee in each scenario? The one that shows that they have put more thought and research before reaching out of course.
Don't be lazy. It's not up to your mentor to talk about anything and everything they might know about building an online business or share their entire story about how they ended up at Google hoping that you would find some inspiration and actionable takeaway.
It's up to you to determine what specifically you need answers to and find the right person to answer those questions.
Read that again.
We sometimes forget how much effort it takes to write books, film videos, conduct interviews, record podcasts, and consistently publish blogs and newsletters. Experts are doing this in order to mentor people at scale!
These mediums often contain all their learnings, best thoughts, and experiences AND it costs you next to nothing. Whatever question you have for these thought leaders and experts, others probably also have for them, and so it's likely they have already released the answer out there in one of their content creations.
If you're a non-technical in the tech industry interested in growing your career through entrepreneurship, intrapreneurship, working abroad, or simply building a personal brand to attract consulting or speaking opportunities you can find mentorship on my podcast Get World Savvy.
If you are only listening to one person for advice, you are missing out on getting other points of view. No one person is going to have all the answers, especially in all areas of your life.
Instead of putting all the pressure on building one mentorship relationship and having an expectation to catch up frequently about any problem that might arise for you, instead, build a broad network of strong relationships you can go to for different advice.
Some of my most trusted advisors are people I consider peers and colleagues.
When you're looking for people to connect with and learn from, don't underestimate those around you, such as your colleagues. This is because they are oftentimes just slightly ahead (or slightly behind) you.
This is extremely important because they are facing the same problems as you are right now. If your only mentors are only those that are so far beyond where you currently are, they are no longer dealing with the problems you are dealing with. Therefore, their advice may not be as relevant or tactical.
Exchange mentorship with your friends. You all have your strengths and weaknesses, perhaps you can mentor each other and everyone wins.
If there's truly someone out there that you want to learn from, you have to be a devoted fan.
Buy their books and leave reviews. Be a customer of their business. Take their courses or workshops and be a standout student. If they are speaking, buy a ticket and show up and introduce yourself if you can. If they have an online presence, be a consistent, engaged, and thoughtful supporter.
You want to let them know that their work affected you in some way. People love hearing that they had an impact.
Successful people are often really, really busy. It’s not that they’re ungenerous or stingy, but, like all of us, they’re doing their best to manage extremely full schedules and the day-to-day demands of their life, work, and family.
But if you're a true fan, stay consistently engaged, understand EXACTLY what more you can learn from them, you are going to get noticed. Think about it, would you rather mentor someone who has come to you knowing everything you have ever put out, or someone who claims they are interested but is a one-off message?
Furthermore, by reading all their work as a genuine fan, you're going to learn a ton from them along the way.
This is the most important step by far. Start building your body of work which will serve as your proof of work.
No one wants to start a business (or professional including mentorship) relationship with someone who isn't out there hustling and putting in the work.
If you're out there doing the best that you can, building your personal brand, caring about your customers, clients, managers, bosses, fans, whichever term fits for you and sharing your work to help others, you will get noticed.
Who would an expert help, someone who has multiple LinkedIn articles written on marketing strategies, internships at multiple agencies, multiple hackathons or entrepreneurial experiences in marketing product launches OR someone who simply claims a passion for marketing but has never worked in that area?
Building a body of work takes time but you have to start somewhere.
If you want someone to invest in you or mentor you, give them a reason to believe in you. What will you do to get them to believe in you?