Let’s be real. Navigating your career is challenging. There are so many moving parts and sometimes, you just need someone to show you the way. I certainly did not know how to create a resume, prepare for job interviews, optimize my LinkedIn profile and grow my network until I went to career workshops at my school. The instructors were in some way, mentors who’ve guided me through pivotal moments of my professional journey.
As much as I like to figure things out on my own, I am grateful to have met people who continue to help me along the way. From colleagues helping me navigate office politics to college professors recommending me to potential employers and friends sharing job opportunities, I can speak to the value a mentor can bring into someone’s life.
I hope I’ve convinced you by now that you need to have one. And if you’re wondering how to find them, use these tips from online business coach Primoz Bozic:
1. Don’t assume anyone’s too busy to give you his/her time
Finding a great mentor starts by putting yourself in the right state of mind. Don’t talk yourself out of trying to find one by assuming successful people won’t have time for you. The truth is, they actually love mentoring ambitious people like you. You just have to show them you’re worth the investment.
Take on the psychology of “I’ll work so hard that I’ll leave a great impression on them” and use the next steps to actually get there.
2. Don’t take people’s advice for granted
Ever spent hours giving advice to someone who never ended up using it? I bet that didn’t make you feel great. Unfortunately, most people never follow through with the advice they receive, which can help explain why they can’t keep a mentor.
The good news is, you can be the exception. Be action-oriented. If you have potential mentors in mind, consume their content (blog posts, books, podcast episodes) and apply their advice before even meeting. This not only gives you something to talk about when you meet them but also tells them you’re serious about having them guide you.
3. Send appreciation notes consistently
Once you take action on their advice, make sure you let them know that they’ve contributed to your life in some way. Leave them a Facebook comment, mention them in a tweet or send a thank-you note or email. These go a long way!
Instead of just telling them you love their book, tell them what you loved the most about it, how you used it and what results you got from it. Go even further by writing a blog or a social media post where you openly express your gratitude.
Draw inspiration from these people whose unique approach to thank personal finance expert Ramit Sethi got them noticed.
- Illustrator Julia Kelly drew an amazing illustration of Ramit Sethi
- Community management expert Diana Tower wrote up a conference write up full of memes and funny videos
Spending the extra time doing something different will separate you from most people who just say “thank you!” And move on with their lives.
While they might not respond to you the first few times you reach out, doing it often and consistently will eventually get you noticed. Just make sure you’re genuine through all of it.
In your outreach messages, be sure to stay concise and show regard for their time. Don’t write emails that are 5 paragraphs long; they likely won’t read them. Instead, send them a short but detailed email that expresses your appreciation of the value they bring to your life and show them (rather than tell) the results.
Because almost nobody else does it, you’ll be impossible to ignore and you’ll make a fantastic first impression. Stay persistent. They will eventually start to engage you.
4. Figure out what you bring to the table
While taking action and sending appreciation emails are great strategies to get noticed by potential mentors, there’s a way to make a great first impression even faster – by going doing things that other people aren’t doing. One of them is taking the time to really nail down the ways they can add value to their ideal mentor’s life.
Refer to their social profiles to find out about what they have going on and things they’re promoting or asking people to support. Do they have an event you can help them sell out? Are they starting a non-profit and you know a few things about fundraising? Did they launch a new book and you can buy a copy and also encourage your friends to purchase? Do your research and think broadly about the different ways you can contribute to their projects. Tap into your own strengths to help them in a way they’ll remember.
5. Don’t ask for anything until they offer to help
Successful people get hundreds of requests for their time every day, and unfortunately, they ignore most of them – especially from people they don’t know.
The best way to build trust with a potential mentor is to focus on adding value to them without expecting anything in return. As compelled as you might feel to do it, resist asking for advice, help or connections before you build trust with them.
Wait for them to offer help first (they’ll usually ask you if there’s any way they can help you out once you’ve been in touch with them for a while). Once they do, start off by making a small ask (like asking them a quick question). As your relationship evolves over time, you can slowly make graduate to bigger asks, but don’t be demanding.
Patience is key when it comes to finding a great mentor. The process can take a few months or even years, so allow relationships to form organically. Keep working on your brand, perfecting your craft and use these strategies to build a supportive network.