I've known the power of mentorship for years but have been unable to find a true mentor. I have a bunch of virtual mentors but haven't been able to find mentors who I can have a personal relationship with.
Anybody who was ever a child (which is everyone, obviously) or read a book (which isn't everyone, unfortunately) has benefitted from others' knowledge and connections.
Most of us human beings mentor others off and on in various capacities. But it's pretty rare (outside of parenthood) to find a long-term, personal relationship with a mentor.
I'd recommend not seeking one. Why? Because I don't think you can find one by asking around. And if you put your energy into or base your plans on finding a mentor, then you won't develop the skills of self-sufficiency, resourcefulness, and cooperation that ultimately determine success.
Think about it. Any mentor relationship is (by definition) not a balance of give and take. Many people have the experience and even the leisure time to act as mentors; but unless they're personally interested in mentoring someone, they will regard overtures for advice in a business-like consulting sense or else (much worse) as impositions on their time.
Assuming someone has climbed the peaks and is now looking back to see whom he can help climb up after, then that person has no shortage of less experienced individuals to mentor. Whether he will pick you is mostly a question of chance. But it also depends on what you've accomplished on your own.
It's mostly out of your control. So I'd recommend concentrating on what you can do independently and on the usual give-and-take relationships that exist among peers. If a mentor relationship evolves, great! But that's out of your hands, I'd say.
I’ve been asked many times over the years to share specific professional and personal insights that enable others to benefit from my experiences. And I never took it seriously until I came across several structured online programs that demystified the process and outcomes which enabled me to establish some engagement guidelines.
I consider the mentoring experience as just another opportunity to network and build valuable connections.
The best mentor/mentee matches include clear expectations from both parties about what they want to gain from working together, honest communication about any differing objectives, and mutual respect. Mentees need to honor their mentor’s time constraints and boundaries about what the mentor is willing to provide. Mentors need to understand their mentee’s goals and values and be active listeners.
There are many interpretations of what a mentor is and what are the responsibilities to mentor someone. I approach mentoring as connecting with professionals who are looking for help in shaping and guiding them through a career objective or a specific challenge. I do this through ongoing dialog and interaction and I expect my mentoring assignments to operate via a strict means of accountability. I find it more productive to establish a road map of anticipated results during our engagement that can be measured and maintained.
As a mentor in several current engagements, I commit to an initial period of time to evaluate the extent of our working relationship, including the way in which we cooperate with each. This is the single most important quality of any mentoring arrangement. Without cooperation, we’re just going through the motions. The mentoring process demands that you genuinely care about the journey and successes, it should be important to everyone involved. How else do you justify the time and attention spent working with someone else?
Some people are lucky to have a mentor in someone they work closely with, hence learning from their experience. Others must look outside their circle, and for those there are several places to being the search.
SCORE.org: A nonprofit association of more than 13,000 volunteer counselors who individually mentor aspiring entrepreneurs and small-business owners. It also offers training, advice, workshops and resources dedicated to entrepreneur education.
MicroMentor.org: An initiative of nonprofit humanitarian agency Mercy Corps that offers free online guidance to entrepreneurs, particularly those with low incomes and limited access to business resources, and connects them with a business mentor. This is where I signed up for assignments.
SBA.gov: Ever the small-business resource, the Small Business Administration’s Mentor-Protégé program serves firms eligible for its 8(a) Business Development program, an initiative to help socially and economically disadvantaged Americans gain access to economic opportunity.
VA.gov/osdbu: The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs launched its Mentor-Protégé Program to pair mentoring firms with small businesses owned by service-disabled veterans and other veteran-owned small businesses to create long-term relationships and provide business assistance.
I've made it a point to network (often virtually), as I'm too busy these days to hit conferences and stuff... I've recently found a mentor - someone who is in a related industry, is that "success story" I want to emulate, and has the passion to teach and share. I'm paying her an extravagant sum of money (gladly - as it forces me to do the things she sais - even the uncomfortable ones) each month, and it's working really well.
For me, I find it hard to trust people, as I tend to call bullshit on them, so it's taken me a long time. I've always surrounded myself with those people I desired to emulate, even if they had nothing to do with my industry. I believe I learnt alot through osmosis.
I think the key here for you is focusing on building relationships with people you admire. Be a person to them (don't puppy dog them or harass them), just chill and learn from them.
Be open (or propose) a mentoring relationship (I pay you to mentor me) with the right person.
Hope this helps.