We all want a mentor, but sometimes, no matter how hard we try, we can’t seem to find one. As our community grows and we talk to people about their experiences finding a mentor, we’ve identified 5 common reasons that get in the way of them locking in a mentor.
If you are proactively searching for a mentor and putting yourself out there, then well done – we hope this guide can help you refine your approach as you search.
Asking someone to be your mentor upfront
You wouldn’t go on a date and ask someone to get into a relationship right away. Mentorship is the exact same as any other relationship. Asking someone to commit to a regular meeting with you the first time you meet is a lot of pressure. Also, what if this person isn’t what you thought they would be? Instead of looking at the person as your potential mentor, look at them as a normal human being that you want to build a connection with.
Don’t only look for a mentor when you need something
You should be constantly nurturing relationships with potential mentors ALL of the time. That way, when you really need support, you have a network of people to ask who you have authentically built relationships with and who already see you as a genuine person.
Even if you feel that you don’t need help with anything at this exact moment in time, there is value in connecting with a potential mentor, or someone you look up to to give them a compliment, or interact with their social posts. These small interactions don’t go unnoticed. Start building your relationships today. Have a think – who do you know that is doing something cool and you would love to hear more about how? DM them and tell them what it is you like about them. Plant seed today that your future self will thank you for.
Not being clear on what you want to learn from this person
Before you begin searching for a mentor, don’t just reach out to people for the sake of it because they have an impressive title or they have a large social following…take stock on where you’re at and what exactly you need to know to get to where you want to be.
The more specific and clear on what you need, the more value you will get, and the more likely someone is going to want to help you because they know you’ve done your research.
Ask these questions
- What are your goals?
- What would you like to learn specifically (more confidence presenting, how to grow my social following)?
- What do you want to improve on?
Make a list and use this to steer your search for mentorship.
Not being creative about where to find a mentor
Don’t limit yourself to LinkedIn or networking events to find a mentor. Or only asking people who call themselves mentors.
Spoiler – everyone can be a mentor. You likely already have someone in your existing network that you admire who you could strike up a conversation with. Stop thinking of mentorship as being limited to approaching someone older and more experienced than you who you’ve never met before. Mentors can be someone at the same age, life stage, or career position as you. Treat it like any normal relationship and reach out to ask them how they achieved what they did.
Instagram is an amazing channel for finding mentorship, by engaging with peoples content and sending them the odd DM showing them you appreciate their work is a great way to warm up someone to be your mentor. Same goes for Clubhouse, asking your friends or family if they know anyone to put you in touch – shout from the rooftops about what it is you want to learn and you’ll see the potential mentors start to appear.
Giving up after one person rejects you
Not everyone is going to have time or be open to supporting you as a mentor, and that’s ok. Instead of taking it personally take it as an opportunity to do a mini self examination:
- Was I rude or did I come across as demanding?
(If yes, then it’s time to rethink how you might approach it next time, check out this example of what to include in an email to a potential mentor.)
- Is it possible this person is very busy and doesn’t have time or capacity to hold space for me?
(If yes, then no worries – you can find someone else who does)
- Could I have been clearer in my request for information?
(If no, then spend some time taking inventory on what you really need to learn)
If someone says they can’t mentor you, it’s likely not personal, chin up, thank them for their time, and carry on with your search. Start to get more comfortable with people saying no- it loses its power over time.
If you want to actively build your network of peer mentors, check out Soundboard, we host quarterly events where we hand pick people at the event to match with.
You can find us
About your author
Niamh Donoghue is a Marketing Consultant and the Founder of Soundboard, a peer-to-peer mentorship & ideation platform for curious minds looking for a place to bounce ideas & gain new perspectives. After 10 years helping brands connect with their ideal customer, she’s helping individuals connect with their ideal mentor.
You can find out more about Niamh and her business here.
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