It probably doesn’t need to be argued why everyone should have a mentor. Mentors encourage personal and professional growth. Mentors hold mentees accountable. Mentors provide invaluable learning opportunities for mentees to not repeat their mistakes.
The most common question I get asked when it comes to mentoring is, “How do I find a mentor if I am just starting out?” followed closely by “Should I pay for a mentor?”.
Before identifying the ways in which to find a mentor, it’s important to define what a mentor is. A mentor has traditionally been defined as someone who is more senior than you (by senior, I mean older), who works in the same industry and will agree to regularly meet with you, face-to-face, to discuss career goals and ways to advance. A much more accurate and relevant definition of a mentor is someone who has experience, or is farther ahead, in the area in which you’d like to advance. A mentor, by this new definition, does not need to be someone you know personally, nor does he or she need to be someone you meet with face-to-face, or even at all. Some of my best mentors are people who have never even heard of me.
Before looking for a mentor, consider what you want to get from the relationship. Be specific in what you’d like to learn or what skills you’d like to improve. If learning is your primary reason for seeking out mentorship, then consider some of the following non-traditional ways to get what you need.
- Listen to podcasts. Podcasts are arguably one of the easiest ways to consume information. You can download podcasts onto your mobile phone and listen to them anywhere and anytime – on your morning commute, during your lunch hour, while you’re at the gym, literally anywhere. If there is a particular topic you are seeking to learn more about, or if there is a skill you are looking to improve upon, there is a podcast out there just waiting for you to find. Do a quick search in the search bar of your favourite podcast app and see what comes up.
- Read Books. If you are looking to learn something new or improve on a skill, there’s probably a book written about it. Looking to master your negotiation skills or improve your productivity or start a new passion project? I can’t think of one thing I would want to learn that there isn’t a book for.
- Watch videos. If you are the type of individual who would prefer to learn through visualization, videos are a great way to learn from others who have mastered whatever it is you’re looking to learn. Don’t take my word for it, run a quick search on YouTube or your favourite video platform on any topic you want to learn about and see what comes up.
Bottom line: there is literally nothing you can’t learn about on the internet for free as long as you have an internet connection and a google search bar.
Having said that, if you are looking for a mentor relationship that provides you with feedback, holds you accountable, and is committed to helping you get results as quickly as possible, then you absolutely must invest in mentoring.
- As soon as mentoring becomes a paid transaction, the focus becomes crystal clear and both the mentor and the mentee are equally vested in the outcome.
- Paying for something you value feels really good. Knowing that you are taking control of an area of your life that you wish to improve upon builds your self-confidence.
- Paid mentoring is the fastest and most direct way to get results.
If you have a desire to improve any area of your life, particularly if you have a specific goal, such as transitioning careers, paid mentoring is a great option.