I'll start with the bad news first. There is no "perfect" mentor.
Why? Because there is no perfect person. You will never meet a mentor who will be the perfect mentor at all times. They have flaws, you have flaws, and you both change over time.
But, you can have the perfect mentor for YOU for A time. Depending on where you are in your career or business, you can find a mentor that for that specific season in your life will be the perfect mentor that you need.
As you grow, perhaps that mentor will become more of a friend and confidant and you will need to find a different mentor. That's okay. The key is to find the perfect fit for you both for that season. All relationships are two-way streets. If you want to have a perfect-fit mentor, you need to be a perfect-fit mentee.
How to find this perfect-fit mentor? Here are 5 steps.
Step 1 - The Search
Start searching for someone with the right experience. Where do you want to go? How do you want to grow? Find someone who has done that already. They might be older or younger than you. Don't exclude someone too quickly just because you don't think they would have that experience. Do a thorough search. Have coffees, informational interviews, etc... Don't feel pressured to commit too soon. Think of it as browsing through a clothing boutique. Each meeting or coffee is the equivalent of you trying on a clothing item. You don't need to buy it just because you tried it on. Likewise, you don't need to commit to a mentor at first meet.
One aside, although it is beneficial to have your mentor be in the same field as you, it is not a requirement. If you work in finance, it's okay for them to be working in contracts (as was the case for one of my mentors). If you're building up a digital marketing agency, it's okay if your mentor's experience is in the sock industry.
The real questions to ask are: Have they experienced the kind of growth I'm looking to experience? Have they overcome the kind of challenges I'm expecting to encounter?
Get an idea of what their experience is, see if your personalities click and go from there.
Step 2 - The Commitment
So, you've done your research and you've found the person who you think is your perfect-fit mentor. That's just the start. Now you need to ASK them if they WANT to be your mentor. This is a relationship, remember? People have to choose INTO the relationship.
How do you ask? Appeal to their sense of willingness to help. One thing I've learned from the countless networking events and conferences I have been to is that successful people WANT to help out. They want to share their knowledge with those who are eager to learn.
So, work up your confidence and ask.
Step 3 - The Expectations
It is crucial to set the expectations from the beginning. As in all relationships, open and clear communication is best. Are you expecting your mentor to be proactive and give you books to read or a list of people to meet? Let them know! They might expect that you will ask for those resources when you're ready.
Miscommunication is one of the biggest reasons for failed relationships. We all communicate differently, and given our different personality types, we all expect different things out of relationships.
Want to make your mentoring relationships a perfect-fit? Be clear and open about any expectations. Make sure you both are signing up to the same type of commitment.
Step 4 - The Start
Once you've selected a mentor, they've agreed to the relationship and you have clear commitments, the mentoring begins! You meet as scheduled, have your talks, discuss the obstacles, etc...
And then what? Then YOU need to do one of the most important parts of this relationship.
ACT ON YOUR MENTOR'S ADVICE!
If they are taking time out of their schedule to give you advice, and you NEVER act on that advice, you're basically telling them that you don't value them. There is no reason for the mentoring relationship. You won't benefit from it.
If you don't act, you don't benefit. You'll feel like you're being short-changed because you won't see the results you expected to see, and you'll be dissatisfied. You'll get to the conclusion that this isn't the perfect mentor for you.
Your mentor will feel unappreciated, frustrated, undervalued and will also reach the conclusion that this mentoring relationship has no value added to either party.
It's a sure recipe for a frustrating, disastrous end. If you want a perfect-fit mentor, you need to ACT on their advice.
Step 5 - The Relationship
Now, the beauty of a perfect-fit relationship is that BOTH parties benefit. As the mentoring relationship blossoms and you ACT on the advice of your mentor, you'll see the benefits in your life/career/business. You'll have a very real reminder that this relationship is benefiting you.
Your mentor will see your growth and success and feel that pride that comes with mentoring. There is something so fulfilling about bringing joy and success into other people's lives.
But you want this to be a perfect-fit relationships, right? So go the extra mile. Provide value to your mentor. What can you help them with? If you have an area of expertise or a skill that they would need, offer to help! Treat them as you would treat a friend (because, hopefully, you two WILL become friends). Be sure to provide value back.
The beauty of these 5 steps is that when you have gotten to the next stage in life, and you need to find a NEW perfect-fit mentor, your relationship with your old one will be so good, they just might be the person to recommend you to your next one.
For those who are looking to master the art of confidence and boldly create the career they WANT to have in 2017, perhaps I am the mentor for you. Join my Be Fearless 2017 Program!