Desperately Seeking Mentor
A mentor can be your single biggest career boost. Not only can she share her wisdom, she can also put you in touch with the movers and shakers in your business, helping you advance your career more quickly. Some natural places to find a mentor include your network of friends and business acquaintances, professional organizations, and your current place of work. Set your sights on an experienced, well-respected individual–someone whose style and values you admire and whom you would like to emulate.
Occasionally a mentor will “adopt” you without any effort on your part. It is more common, however, that you will have to make the first move.
If you don’t know the person, start by introducing yourself. Don’t overwhelm her or ask for too big a commitment–a lunch invitation is a great opening. Similar to setting up an informational interview, explain that you’re looking for guidance in your field and that you’d like to take her to lunch to get her advice and input. If she declines, let it go. It’s nothing personal. If she accepts, get prepared.
This may be the beginning of a long relationship or it may be the only time you have this person’s valuable and undivided attention. Either way, you want to take maximum advantage. Come to your meeting prepared with a list of questions and concerns on which you’d like her input. At the end of the meeting, ask if you can keep in contact. Again, if she politely refuses, you must respect her decision without pressing. If she agrees, ask how to contact her in the future (e-mail, phone, etc.) and thank her for her time and generosity.