I’ve talked a lot in my blogs about the value of having multiple mentors to help you achieve success as an independent advisor. I truly believe that no man is an island and that to get to the top of the game, you need to work with others along the way. Though I’ve written about why you should have mentors, I haven’t talked a whole lot about finding the right ones or – more importantly – how to keep them once you’ve formed a relationship. Valuable mentors are usually very busy people. They might be running a business (or a few businesses), have commitments to keep to their community, and be juggling a number of hobbies along with making time for family and relaxation. They don’t have a lot of extra time and if you want some of that time, you’ll have to do a few things so they view the time they invest in your as valuable.
Finding the Right Mentor
The right mentor for your friends or colleagues is not necessarily the right mentor for you. Finding the right fit is highly individualized and is based on what you want out of the relationship and how your personalities mesh. Before searching for a mentor, make sure you know what you’re looking for. Do you want guidance on the nuts and bolts of the business, such as how to establish a monthly planning service, or are you looking for help with more of the intangibles like how your thoughts affect your levels of success?
Find those who have already accomplished what you set out to or who share the same values as you. When you approach a potential mentor, tell him or her why you chose them and how much you admire the career they’ve created. Then ask them if they’d let you treat them to a drink or cup of coffee so you can find out more about their journey. If it’s a good fit, this is often all you need to launch a successful mentoring relationship.
Keeping a Mentor
Finding the right mentor is just half the journey. As I stated previously, a good mentor is likely very busy and you don’t want to waste their time. Here are some tips on how to make the most of your relationship and ensure it continues.
Being demanding or pushy is one of the best ways to guarantee your mentor won’t stick around for long. You need to have patience and understand your mentor is giving up time they could be doing something else to talk to you. As your relationship progresses and you find ways to give them value, the amount of time they’re willing to reserve for you could grow. But in the beginning, you need to be happy with whatever you get.
Commit to being trainable
If you’re not ready to listen, change, and grow, there’s no reason for you to have a mentor. No one wants to spend time with someone who’s narrow-minded and not willing to see things from a different perspective. You need to show your mentor that you’re trainable and willing to try new ways of doing things. You can show them this by asking a lot of questions and really listening to what your mentor has to say. Try to be specific if you can. If you’re interested in learning to adopt healthy boundaries with your clients, ask questions about that. Never assume your mentor can read your mind! The important thing is to make sure your mentor sees that the time he or she is giving you is having an impact.
Be grateful and humble
You need to show your mentor that he or she is appreciated, and being grateful and humble is the best way to do that. It doesn’t matter if they’re giving you two hours a week or twenty minutes every couple of months; be grateful for every second and every piece of advice that comes your way. Remember, actions are a whole lot more important than words, so in addition to saying thank you frequently, you should also show that you’re humble by listening to and following their advice, then updating them on your progress. For the most part, a mentor will want nothing in return for their time other than knowing they have made a difference and that they are appreciated.
When you can learn from others’ mistakes, you can accelerate your learning and growth and achieve your goals much faster. Knowing how to find and keep a good mentor is one of the best ways to accomplish this. Have questions about finding or keeping a mentor? Please leave them below!