According to an internal HR study done by Sun Microsystems, their employees who were also mentees were 5 times more likely to be promoted. Mentors, on the other hand, were six times more likely to be promoted. It’s a win-win situation, with everyone benefiting from experience, outside perspective and problem-solving.
Even if you work for a small business – or yourself! – it makes sense to look to a mentor for their advice, especially if you can find one that’s “been there.” Keep reading for some tips on how to find a mentor, what to look for in a mentor, and a couple of dos and don’ts when reaching out!
Finding Potential Mentors:
First, list out the specific issues and challenges you think a mentor could help with. Use your contacts to figure out who you know that’s been successful in those areas, or is tight with someone who is. Definitely use your social connections through Facebook, LinkedIn, GooglePlus, etc. to help identify key people in your network. If you haven’t already, consider upgrading to a premium LinkedIn account. And make sure you put some time into thanking about why those successful people should invest their most valuable resource — their time — in you.
Score.org is another great resource for finding a mentor, especially if you have specific technical questions or are looking to change to an industry where you don’t have a ton of contacts already. You can use their site to find an in-person or email mentor through their location and business area listings. Even if you don’t find a mentor for life, you’ll be on your way to engaging with like minded individuals facing similar problems. (Read our previous post on Score.org here.)
Making a Match:
When you’ve figured out who you want to get in touch with, start sending emails to potential mentors with a specific invitation and questions, and don’t overreach:
No: Will you be my mentor? I need your help launching my next app/site/world domination scheme.
Yes: Would you have time for a cup of coffee next week? I saw your awesome work with [a thing] and wanted to ask you how you navigated [this specific launch issue].
No: Do you want to have lunch/dinner/children together?
Yes: My company is hosting [x awesome event] next Wednesday the [date]. I really admire what you did with [this relevant thing] and I wanted to personally invite you to attend, since we are also [trying to do this similar, relevant thing]. It’ll be at [a place] at [a time] and I’ll pull you on the list.
Finding a mentor is a lot like dating: it makes sense to start slow and try to build a relationship. Don’t try to jump into a life-long partnership immediately: you are looking for compatibility on a whole ton of issues, both personal and professional, and that takes some time to suss out. And of course, come prepared and worth a mentor’s time. It’s important to show why you’re worth it, and make sure to be grateful for the time of others. Be gracious and definitely send a thank you (email, not flowers)!