Relationship Week #2: Acquiring the Right Mentor

November 16, 2005 - Get free updates of new posts here

I think many young people including myself neglect finding people who can help them. If you were going become a professional tennis player, I find it very hard to do that on your own or just through reading books. My guess is that working with an experienced coach will make your game the best.

This is true for having a few mentors. You need to actively search for someone who has the experience, interest and dedication in making you the best person possible. Don’t just sign up any dad or boss from work but someone you admire that admires your drive as well and wants to invest their time in improving you.

Some tips in acquiring a great mentor. Never ask anyone to be your mentor. I think it comes from a two way process where you are looking to help them and they feel better by helping you. Always actively look for people to connect with inside and outside your company. Contact people that are in the position you want to be in. Make an effort to have more than 1 mentor possibly in different roles or that provide different perspectives on things.

When talking with a mentor or a new business contact here are some questions I found that are useful:

  • Please tell me a bit about your background. How did you get your start in the industry?
  • What do you like best and least about the industry or your company and your role?
  • Topline, describe your week or year.
  • What advice do you have for someone trying to get into the industry?
  • Given my background, what could I do short term to make myself a stronger person in your field?
  • Could you recommend other colleagues in the company or industry I could talk with?
  • Do you mind if I keep in touch with you periodically for advice?

Key “to dos”

  • Draw on people you know to recommend people they know in your targeted areas.
  • Call on your work or school colleagues, family or friends, professors, and others in your “network.” Contact those people to request an info interview.
  • Be polite, engaging, and brief when contacting them. Let them know who referred you. Tell them that you heard they would be a valuable resource for information and that you are learning more about the industry/company/job function and hope they can share some advice.
  • Send a copy of your resume to familiarize them with your background.
  • An in-person meeting in their office is best, but you can also offer to take them out for coffee, meet them in an airport lounge, or offer to give them a tour if they are stopping in your city, or even do a phone meeting or IM session.
  • Always offer to pay for things when you go out

A mentor is essential and I hope this helps you get on the path of acquiring the right one.

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