Who are the people that are the best in your field? Do you personally know them, and do they know you? Are you learning from them on an ongoing basis?
I am blessed to not only know but also be great friends with one of the leaders in my field of professional speaking. My mentor Connie Podesta is a rockstar ninja who has helped me to up-level my game as a keynote speaker both onstage and off. She has taught me more over mimosas and late-night texts than I have learned from all of the bestselling business books, expensive conferences, and exclusive coaching programs combined.
When you are ready to grow your brand or business, sometimes the best thing you can do is to shift your focus from learning new information from endless “expert” resources to doing a deep-dive with one mentor who truly knows your industry from the inside out.
Here are a few key steps you can take to mindfully create a powerful mentoring relationship:
Choose wisely. Your mentor should be someone who is kicking butt at what you want to be doing. They know the terrain like the backs of their hands. They understand the processes, pitfalls, and politics. They are your model for future strategies, so make sure you are learning from the best.
Be specific. It’s not okay to selfishly pounce on your industry high performers by saying, “Will you be my mentor?” at the very first opportunity. Earn the right to ask for mentorship by demonstrating your competency and commitment over a span of time. Describe exactly what type of assistance you are looking for and what you will do in exchange for their valuable time.
Shut up and listen. While it is tempting to impress these business gurus, don’t try to dazzle them with all of your vast knowledge, experience and insight. Shut your trap and soak in every last bit of wisdom, criticism and advice they give. The more you listen, the shorter your learning curve will be.
Pay attention. Watch how they conduct themselves in meetings, at presentations, over email, with clients, on the road and over the telephone. What do they wear? How do they show up? What types of questions do they ask? How do they execute daily activities? How are their emails written? Some of the greatest lessons you will learn will come from observation of the small details.
Follow instructions. When they give you a suggestion on how to grow your business or improve your skill set, DO IT IMMEDIATELY. Do not dilly-dally. Don’t let fear make you second-guess their advice. Act on their action steps quickly and circle back with them right away to let them know you’ve moved forward with their helpful counsel. They will see that you mean business and will give you more and more valuable recommendations.
Give back. Help them out whenever you possibly can, both personally and professionally. When you spot an opportunity to make a beneficial connection or referral, jump on it like white on rice. If they need assistance for a meeting or special event, step up to volunteer. Coordinate a task force that is important to them. Donate to their children’s cookie drive. Do whatever and whenever you can to return the favor of selfless service.
Be gracious. Genuinely thank them for their generosity of time and attention. Send them thoughtful gifts after a particularly helpful session. Give them heartfelt kudos on social media or through inter-office communications. Find ways to show them how much you truly honor and appreciate their contributions to your growth and development.
By humbly learning from masters in your industry, you will set yourself up to be the next generation of game-changing, leaderboard-leading, buzz-creating leaders who naturally create the careers that future leaders will desire. When that eventually happens, don’t forget that special mentor who helped get you there and do them proud by reaching out to help that earnest newbie who was once like you.
Theresa Rose is a business motivational speaker, award-winning author and expert on mindful productivity who helps organizations and their teams find more time, get more done, earn more money and have more fun. For more information, visit TheresaRose.com.