Happy Thursday, folks!
The other day, one of my mentors, Kim, posted a picture of us laughing with the following caption, “There are moments in life when you meet people and immediately see the next generation of leaders. When @clairesulmers introduced me as her mentor at a holiday party, I could not have been prouder of not only her, but me as well for seeing something special in her in the very beginning. I know success when I see it! Today another amazing strategy session for the @fashionbombdaily empire she is creating.”
I was so humbled and honored that she wrote such sweet words, and hesitated to write anything about it because I would never want to compromise or jeopardize our relationship. The truth is, finding a mentor aka someone willing to take time out of their busy lives to give you advice, is HARD. When I was coming up, only family members would help me out (my brother was my first mentor), and most people I encountered weren’t able to give me more than occasional coffee dates, a phone call, or an email response. Thankfully, as I’ve become more established in my career, I’ve been able to find like minded women who are willing to lend their time and talent to me. I’ve learned the following tips that I hope can be helpful to you in your search. Read on…
1. Don’t ask, “Can You Be My Mentor”?
A mentor has to choose you, not the other way around. It happens naturally, almost like a friendship. You don’t go around asking your friends, “Can you be my friend?” do you? Similarly, mentor/mentee relationships develop over time and are organic progressions. Don’t force or rush it. If you have your eye on someone, perhaps attend talks where they are speaking, go to events they will attend, and try to build from there.
2. Be respectful of people’s time
We’ll assume that your mentor is a busy boss (as my mentors are!). Though I don’t clock how many times we get together, I’d say we probably sit down and check in every 3-6 months. I only contact them when I have a specific question or quandary in mind. Otherwise, I wait for them to reach out to me, and if they are generous enough to invite me to an event, if I’m free, I’m going. Don’t feel entitled to people’s precious time. Time is money, and people are free to choose how they spend it.
3. Keep it Professional
Though my mentors are cool, I’d never cross the line into ‘homegirl’ territory. Which means no long text messages about nonsense, no excessive drinking while in their presence, no Snapchatting or posting pix without permission, you get the point.
4. Do: Pick up the Tab Sometime
I had a girl I was mentoring invite me out to eat all the time, pick my brain, and never offer to pay. One or two times is ok, but maybe on the 3rd or 4th time, I had had it. Offer to pick up the tab. Though the power and resources are generally in the hands of the mentor, you never want to seem like a leech; there has to be some give and take. Don’t always take! At least offer so that they can tell you ‘no.’
5. Do The Work
I wasn’t able to find people willing to help me until I showed that I am about that life! A LOT of people (more than you know), SAY they want that brass ring, but they are not willing to do what it takes to get there. Constantly and consistently improve yourself and your business, and do it yourself! Get those deals, sit on those panels, and make your mentors proud to say that they know you and helped you along the way.
6. Take Their Advice
If your mentor tells you to read a book, talk to someone, or work with a company, take their advice. A mentor/mentee relationship dictates that their opinions can help steer your trajectory. Trust their judgment and do what they tell you to (this includes reading books they suggest, watching movies they swear by, etc). Obviously don’t follow blindly, but if it seems like a good idea, go for it. Also, they’re smart. So if you’re continuing to do the same thing as you did before you met them, they’ll know you didn’t take their advice. Which is frustrating. Go back to point 2 and be respectful of people’s time. Don’t waste it!
At any rate, those are just a few tips. Do you have any more to add?
Love & Light,