Finding a great mentor starts with putting yourself in the right environments. You never know who’s going to become a great mentor to you.
We see this in our coaching groups and in our workshops. Many of these firm owners used to attend local state bar functions and things like that, where no one wants to share any ideas and people have fixed mindsets. But if you take all the entrepreneurial, growth-minded firm owners from around the country and bring them together, it essentially builds this community of like-minded leaders that are sharing ideas, learning from one another, and making more progress than they ever could if they were back in that old environment.
Instead of talking about small things (people, gossip, complaining), this community is talking about culture, leadership, and strategy.
If you put yourself in the type of environment where you have a lot of entrepreneurial thinkers, you change what the conversations are. You start building a different kind of relationship. Great mentors certainly come out of that environment.
You may also find a leader that you look up to and respect — in your industry or in another. Many people underestimate the value of sending that person a LinkedIn message or an email to start a relationship.
However, if you go this route, I recommend NOT asking to pick their brain.
You’re likely not the only one who’s sending them something like that, and ultimately that approach just presents that potential mentor with work they didn’t ask for.
Some of the most successful people tend to also be the most guarded because there are a lot of people that want things from them. As someone who has personally received this type of “pick your brain” message, anytime I detect a kind of a whiff of “this person’s going to want something from me,” I immediately start to pull away. Those aren’t the types of relationships I want to build.
Instead, try to find a way to be able to add value to that person. From there, you can start to build upon that. If you’re a law firm owner, maybe you can send them a case. If you know they’ve got an event coming up, maybe you can help get some people to that event. If they’re doing something in the community, maybe you can help support that initiative.
Do this without asking for anything in return.
By giving first, you start to build those relationships. You start to develop trust. Many of the best relationships I’ve ever built came from giving without expectation.
The mentors and connections you’ll attract that way will all be givers. I’ve seen it play out in the Crisp community. The Crisp Coach members all help each other. They all support one another. They give without expectation and help each other succeed and win.
Don’t be discouraged if you don’t feel like you’re in a position to give something of value to your ideal mentors either. Some of the best business relationships I have were built even before anybody could give anything. I’ve been a part of communities where I joined and I had nothing to give at first. But then I started to learn, grow, and figure out ways to contribute.
Develop skills and capabilities. Find ways to make a contribution.
By doing that, you will become more valuable, and by putting yourself in the right environments, you will find the best mentors.