Over the years many of you have mentioned to me how valuable a mentor would be; how you’d love to find somebody more experienced in blogging and more successful connecting with brands. A mentor would undoubtedly be helpful, and as I go through this Starter Studio program, one main aspect is to match me with a mentor to help advise my business as it grows.
Keeping this in mind, our Brown Bag presenter was Dr. Laura Gallaher of Key Talent Solutions. Laura talked about what makes a successful mentoring relationship and the factors that go into deciding whom to approach about mentoring.
First Laura had us think about people whom we could consider past mentors. Teachers, coaches, parents with whom we had a special relationship. For example, I listed Mr. John Sheehan, my Russian teacher from high school.
Mr. Sheehan was a former NSA agent who dedicated his “civilian” life to teaching. Not only were we immersed in Russian culture, music, history, and geography – yes, I could list the former USSR’s fifteen republics as well as their capitals and locations on a map! – but Mr. Sheehan also worked to find us real world connections for our language study. We had a “babushka” or “grandmother” from the local Russian community who would visit the classroom and talk with us, and every Christmas we had a progressive dinner where we would go to different houses to try authentic Russian food. And when I went to the Soviet Union in 1987 on an exchange program, Mr. Sheehan was there to show me the cities he knew so well.
So, in reflecting on this mentor relationship, I decided it was not only Mr. Sheehan’s immense knowledge but also his extreme passion that mattered. Beyond that, the fact that he cared so much for each of his students made his role as a mentor that more important to me.
Finding a Current Mentor
So, after analyzing our past mentor relationships, Laura had us look at the prospect of matching us with a current mentor. She led us through good questions that any of us bloggers can ask to find out just why we want a mentor in the first place.
1. What do I want now?
So, what are the goals that a potential mentor can help you reach? More page views? Landing a paid sponsorship? Make a list.
2. What do I need now?
After you have listed your goals, you need to make the list of areas you need to improve or work on. This will help you identifies your needs. So, are you weak in social media? Not sure how to read your analytics? Finding it difficult to identify and develop your voice?
3. What will help me get there?
Have a plan of action in mind. For example, if you want a paid sponsor, then do you need a mentor to help you create a media kit or make introductions to key PR people?
After you have identified the answers to these questions, then you need to think about how you’ll present yourself to a potential mentor:
I want potential mentors to see me as…
Needy? Professional? Competent?
If I am being really authentic, I would let them know…
Let your potential mentor know where you need help. No one is perfect at everything, so let them see how they can help. It’s alright to have a weak area… that’s where they can help!
The 2-3 key messages I want them to know are…
So if you missed my post on the elevator pitch, check it out to help you craft this answer.
Questions to Ask a Potential Mentor
So after you have identified a potential mentor, you truly need to do a little more detective work. Be advised that the most successful mentoring relationships happen organically.
Who are you naturally drawn to? Is there a blogger you already really admire?
Who will challenge you? (Your mother probably wouldn’t give you some honest feedback, so choose carefully.) Could there be a lifelong connection?
Ask a Mentor:
What mistakes did you make? What do you still struggle with? How have you overcome your toughest challenge? What advice do you wish you heard when you were starting out?
As I go through these steps to help identify a mentor here in the Starter Studio, you can begin to use them on your own to try to identify and then connect with a blog mentor.
Don’t be shy and feel free to reach out via email or Twitter or even by commenting on your favorite bloggers’ posts. If you live in the same community, offer to buy them coffee in return for picking their brain for a bit.
By far most bloggers I have met are more than willing to share their knowledge with you. But as you try to connect, remember to always respect their time, as we are busy blogging and living our lives!
Good luck, bloggers!
Note: FLBlogCon has been selected to participate in the second round of the Starter Studio, an accelerator for tech start ups. For the next three months, I will be sharing the things I learn with you. Here are my previous posts:
Let’s Get It Started!
25 Things I’ve Learned in Business
Boomerang Your Blog