Finding someone who has already made it in the career you want to break into can give you the essential advice you need to be successful. During the recent Innovation in HR Hospitality Webinar, John Paul Engle, founder of Knowledge Capital Consulting and internationally known executive recruiter and consultant says it’s “critically important” for everyone to have a mentor.
Identify Who You Want
Knowing who would be your ideal mentor is the first step. And it’s more than just knowing them by name—you have to understand their achievements. Dr. Robyn Odegaard, CEO of Champion Performance Development and author of Stop the Drama! said during the webinar that it “makes me crazy” when people ask her to mentor them who clearly haven’t taken the time to research who she is, haven’t read her book—or even know she’s written one—and have never even googled her.
If you don’t know the specific reasons you want an individual to coach you, chances are you won’t be getting the most possible from the relationship. You’ll also increase your chances of landing a mentor if you have a specific, tangible reason that you can tell him about why his specific achievements and successes inspire you.
Use Social Media
Use social media to locate and contact a potential mentor. Make use of the Advanced People Search on LinkedIn, for example, to identify people by specific job title and then narrow the search by zip code. But while the Internet makes getting in touch with a potential mentor easier than ever before, once you’ve found that person the real work begins—convincing him to take you on.
Approach a Potential Mentor
Engle has a tried-and-tested approach to finding a mentor. He first tells his students to find someone “who is doing exactly the job you want.” Once students identify that individual, they must ask three specific questions:
Question One: How did you get the job?
Question Two: What was the most important thing you learned to be successful in that job?
Question Three: What can I do to get into this career?
Seal the Deal
Engle says that by the time his students ask the final question, the individual will almost always offer some form of help, connection or relationship. What happens next is up to you. Make sure to follow up and thank the person. Continue to build the relationship by finding some way that you can help them. Mentoring isn’t all one direction, it has to be a reciprocal relationship. Engle suggests sending your mentor articles you know he is interested in.
Pay It Forward
Be a mentor yourself. Even if you’re the most junior person in your field, or you’re still looking for a job opportunity, that doesn’t mean you can’t help others. Community organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters of America provide mentors to help children identify a different path, and by serving as a mentor yourself, you’ll better understand how to participate as a mentee.