The short answer, everywhere. We live online. And we can access people around the world. Literally. (This is actually the fun part.) Think of it as a quest. As a gamer, you know how that works, right?
First, think of what mentorship really is. A mentor is someone who is willing to give up their time and expertise for no payment to someone like yourself to help you reach your goals. You need to be respectful of their time and talent.
Second, prepare yourself by asking yourself a few questions:
- Who would be my ideal mentor?
- Be specific with your goals so you don’t waste a lot of your time, or theirs.
- What do I want a mentor to do for me?
- Are you looking for someone to hold your hand for the next three years, guiding your every step? (Not a recommended approach.) Or someone to help you get started or get you to the next level.
- Am I “coachable”?
- Do you already know all the answers? You will be more successful if you are open to taking advice from someone you respect. And they know this.
- How much time do I expect to take from my mentor?
- Baby steps here. Start with a small request of their time which can build as you both get to know each other.
- What do I have to give in return?
- This is super important. Be creative. What talent do you have that you could offer in return. Never sell yourself short.
- Do I make it easy for a potential mentor to know who I am?
- Have an online profile on social media which allows anyone to easily understand more about where you have been and where you would like to go.
- How do I see the mentorship working? Long-term? Short-term? One-time?
- Chances are short-term is the most likely situation. If you go into the request thinking you want a long-term commitment you are putting a big burden on yourself and the potential mentor. Maybe a one-time request could be a great introduction to future interactions.
Third, start simple.
To make the request, you can say something like: “I was just curious if you might have time for a short conversation/call/Zoom/coffee/lunch for me to learn more about what you do. If not, no worries.” If it doesn’t work out, move on. Be aggressive, but not insistent.
Fourth, always, always show your appreciation.
And last, have patience. Enjoy the process of reaching out to people you don’t know and getting to know them.
Does this sound a lot like dating? It just might…
Do you have any other suggestions that have worked for you?