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Make the Connection - Find A Mentor

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As we celebrate our 25th anniversary at Merrill Gardens, we are focused on the connections we have made over the years. Our legacy is all about the relationships we've shared and the impact of those connections.  We brought together these amazing individuals to talk about the power of having a mentor/mentee relationship.

When I think about my career path, I am thankful for some great mentors who were instrumental in helping me succeed. They not only helped me when I was stuck, but also provided inspiration and insight on my path. 

Are you looking to get a leg up on your career? Want to master a skill without spending years trying figure it out alone? Many people know a mentor could benefit them but are unsure of how to find one. “How can I find a potential mentor?” is a question I commonly hear.

1. Ask a colleague - Yes You Can!

Where to look -

At Merrill Gardens, we have seen mentor and mentee relationships benefit both parties and that has helped us foster a culture of open dialog and education. A colleague can be any current or former schoolmate, teammate, or coworker. These are people who have been in a similar environment and have achieved success. And there’s no need to stay within the boundaries of your own organization. You can find mentors at a professional networking event or other industry meetup. 

How to start a dialog -

Before asking a colleague to mentor you long-term, it’s helpful to start with an informal meeting over coffee or lunch. You can use this time to get to know each other and see if you’re a good fit.  Send a follow-up message to thank them for your time and if you’re interested, ask for a second meeting where you can talk about a possible mentorship. Remember that not everyone has the time for or interest in mentoring, so allow your potential mentor the freedom to say no.

2. Find someone who’s good at your dream skill - Yes You Can!

Where to look - 

No matter what you want to learn, someone out there is already wildly successful at it. They’ve spent months or years in trial and error, figuring out what works. They’ve perfected their craft and are enjoying the fruits of their work. Since they have already achieved success, a mentor can show you the best path to get there. A mentor can tell you what works and prevent you from experiencing failures. You can find these people in online communities or courses that teach the skills you’d like to learn. Or find a local Meetup of people who share a certain skill, hobby, or professional interest.

How to start a dialogue - 

Once you find the people who have the skills you’re looking for,  you’ll want to evaluate them to see if they’re fit to be a mentor. You’ll want to find someone who can demonstrate their ability. If someone claims to be skilled in sales, can you see the results? It’s best to avoid rushing into a mentorship based on someone’s qualifications or what they tell you in conversation. You don’t want to find out later that the skills are not there. 

3. Find bloggers and online mentors - Yes You Can!

Where to look - 

You can easily find online services that provide mentors to you for a fee. Find a Mentor connects you with skilled people in almost 2,000 categories.  You can also search for bloggers in your field that demonstrate success and authority. You can easily find the blogger’s contact information and ascertain if there is any interest in the idea of mentoring.

How to start a dialogue -

With online relationships, it’s easy to abandon ship when the mentorship becomes challenging. A good mentor will challenge you to push your limits so you can grow, but it’s never enjoyable at the time. It’s tempting to run away, but staying committed and doing the work will lead to real growth and results.

Mentoring isn’t done in a day, or even a few months. It takes real time to see the fruit, so it’s worth staying.

4. Someone with years of experience - Yes You Can!

Where to look - 

Anyone around you can be a mentor. This is a great choice for you if you don’t have a specific career goal or skill that you’d like to obtain, but you’d like to improve your life through a mentor relationship. Choose someone you know who has a lot of life experience, or has experienced something that you’re going through right now. These people can challenge you to become stronger, overcome your weaknesses, and make the right decisions when life gets tough.

How to start a dialog -

A mentor is someone who’s found success in an area, so don’t choose someone who’s struggling with the same thing you are. Those people are good for support, but they won’t be able to teach you how to achieve success if they haven’t reached it yet themselves.

5. Someone you want to be like - Yes You Can!

Where to look -

We all have the power to choose to become who we want to be. Why not find a person you admire--whether he or she has great cooking skills, impeccable style, or a great personality--and ask them to help you get there too? If you’re nervous to ask, think about how you would feel if someone approached you. Most people would be flattered that someone admires them and wants to learn from them.

How to start a dialog -

Once you’ve found someone you admire who’s willing to mentor you, make sure to approach the mentorship proactively. Don’t expect the other person to know what you need. Come prepared with questions, requests for advice and feedback, and clearly communicate your goals and schedule.

And don’t forget to say thank you!

Mentors are everywhere you look. You can get started now-- grab a piece of paper, write down your top 5 goals, and commit to finding a mentor that will help you to reach them.

Yes You Can! 

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