When you’ve joined the working class and your life is about family, friends, and work, it may be difficult to find the time for career-related training. However, when you make the time to improve your skills, you want to ensure that each moment is productive. One way to learn is with the right mentor. Finding the perfect mentor is not easy, but there are some tips you can follow to find the right one for you.
Determine your potential mentor’s teaching style
Start by searching online to learn about your choice of mentor. If your mentor has some level of celebrity status, then follow them on social media platforms such as YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Watch their videos. Subscribe to their newsletters. Sign up for free seminars or workshops that they are hosting. Your purpose is to discover their teaching style, as well as what topics they teach their followers. You want to choose a mentor whose style resonates well with you.
If your mentor is not a celebrity with hundreds or thousands of followers, the same idea applies. If your mentor is a friend, coworker, or mentor at your company, decide if you can learn from their teaching style. For example, if you attended one of their workshops, did you feel like you could apply what you learned?
Regardless if your choice of mentor is a well known celebrity such as Tony Robbins, or someone you know personally, ask yourself if your mentor challenges you. If you want to be a successful business owner, and your potential mentor has just started her own business, there may not be enough of a gap to challenge you. However, if your potential mentor has owned a successful business for ten years, you have a longer distance to climb to catch up to that same point.
Take action after you choose a mentor
When you’ve found someone you like as a mentor, ask yourself if your mentor can motivate you to get results.
Your mentor should inspire you to take action when you watch their YouTube video or teach you about a new concept. Their message should excite you so much that you want to learn and change. They should also be approachable. For example, you should feel comfortable having dinner with them without feeling nervous.
Their mentorship should have you thirsting for more knowledge about the same topic, or have you madly scribbling notes. You should be excited about applying what they are trying to teach you as soon as possible.
To get the best results from working with a mentor, have some goals in mind. The worst scenario is to be too general about what you want your mentor to teach you. If your mentor posts a lot of learning material online, focus on one topic at a time, not getting your hands on everything they have ever published. If your mentor wants to help you improve your skills, don’t set a general goal, such as “I want to get better at my career.” Set specific goals and share these with your mentor.
Choose a mentor who chooses you
Getting feedback from your mentor is important. I’ve taken online courses from experts and gurus who I respect as mentors. I understand their lessons, but I’m not sure if I’m interpreting their learning points correctly. At a workshop or live webinar, choose a mentor who answers questions and provides feedback to participants. This style helps you to gauge if you are understanding what they teach.
If you can schedule an hour with your mentor, have your hour planned out beforehand. Prepare questions to ask your mentor, or list what you’d like to improve on prior to your meeting. Set clear expectations and outcomes to show your mentor that you respect their time.
For example, if you want to improve on your presentation skills, ask your mentor if they can give you some pointers and feedback on the way you speak at a presentation. Be prepared to show them part of your presentation so they can provide you with specific tips and feedback.
After you receive feedback, take some time to reflect on what you’ve learned. Was the feedback valuable? Can you use the feedback to make improvements? Did your mentor seem genuinely invested in you? A mentor who is genuinely invested will encourage you, tell you what progress you’ve made, be honest in their critique, and help you set goals for next steps.
Keep moving forward
Finding the right mentor is like an investment. You want someone who is approachable, excited about what you want to learn, and honest when mentoring you. It will feel uncomfortable and even painful to be told that you aren’t doing something well. However, if you only spend time doing things that you already do well, you will not grow as a person.
Embrace change and getting uncomfortable. You may find yourself looking for a new mentor in the future for various reasons. In my case, I had a business mentor for two years. As I developed my business knowledge, I started to change my goals for my business strategy. I realized I needed a new mentor who could help me improve my new approach to doing business. I found a new mentor, but I keep in touch with my previous one.
In life, the best direction to keep moving in is forward. After you reach one milestone in the road, aim for a new one. Always keep challenging yourself and you will grow as a person.