Many confuse coaching with mentoring.
A lot of younger and sometimes older people reach out daily requesting to be mentored, whereas they don’t want a mentor at all, what they actually need is a coach.
Mentoring is a relationship between a more experienced person (mentor) who acts as a trusted guide to a less experienced person (mentee) over a period of time. Most mentorships outside the workplace are informal. With mentorship, the mentee is responsible for the goals and outcomes, what you achieve from the relationship is actually what you put into it.
It’s actually unnecessary to request to be mentored. We don’t typically ask people to be our friends. Mentoring is a relationship, and much like friendships, will grow once the relationship is nurtured.
If you have a mentoring opportunity or you approach a prospective mentor, then try your best to establish a relationship, you can do this by building rapport, getting to know them more personally, by offering to give e.g. volunteering to be with them rather than asking of them. People generally avoid people who seem like a burden or one more thing to worry about.
Most mentors who still work will have busy schedules, it’s good to establish their availability before reaching out. Avoid long messages or emails requiring long responses. If trust is established or better still you are introduced, you should arrange a face to face meeting or place a call to them. Don’t use a messenger service like WhatsApp or Facebook unless agreed. Challenge them with interesting questions, good mentors will enjoy helping you out. Use your time with them wisely. Remember a mentor is a trusted advisor offering guidance.
If you have a knowledge and skills gap, you probably also need some training. If a mentor is knowledgeable in your field, they may help you out themselves, or guide you in the right direction, however, do not attempt to use a mentor to gain free training services. Invest in training yourself.
Once a relationship is established, your mentor may start checking up on you, to see how things are going with you. Always remember why you approached them in the first place. I have one mentor who regular calls me and several mentors who never call me, and that’s ok. Don’t expect anything from them, but to learn from their wealth of experience.
When I first started getting mentoring requests, I thought I would be overwhelmed and boy was I wrong. 99.9% of those requesting mentorship, do nothing afterwards, and you guessed right, as a result, nothing happens. I am not sure what they were expecting. It is not a mentor’s job to follow up with you.
If you don’t feel up to the role of taking charge and cultivating a relationship with a prospective mentor, then you probably need a coach.
A coach is more formal and works with you on achieving a specific goal. A coach, through a structured process will help you achieve your goals much faster than if you were to do it yourself. lf you need that push and accountability partner, that will be a coach. A coach could even combine coaching sessions with a training programme if that suits the goal you are trying to achieve.
You won’t have to worry about calling, the coach will schedule your sessions. Sounds too good right? I am sure some of us are thinking why didn’t I get a coach all this while? It’s never too late, you only need to find one that suits your goals and hire their services! You heard right, you need to pay for the service. Coaching produces results fast, so consider investing in it, that way you are in charge with much greater chance of achieving your goals. One thing both coaching and mentoring have in common is that they are both opportunities for development, you cannot coach or mentor an unwilling party.
So next time you think, I need a mentor, think again. If you are not ready to work on building a relationship or perhaps you haven’t been lucky enough to find a mentor, then consider hiring a coach, it will get you the results you want much faster.
One last thing, if the mentor or coach you have identified has an inner circle coaching or mentoring programme or products or services they promote, it is only wise to consider enrolling for their programme or purchasing their products, you are more likely to get their attention when you have evidence that you have invested in learning from them. Do not expect them to give for free what other people pay them for.
I hoped this helped someone?
P.S. You can’t force a relationship, if you aren’t able to build rapport with a prospective mentor, find someone else. Rapport is a key success factor. Also, the right mentor has some time to spare for you, if they are too busy, find someone else.
P.S.S. Rather than hope for a mentor with no guarantee, pay for a coach and training courses. Too many people seek free things and it limits them from progressing quickly. It is much quicker and effective to take a short course or attend a conference than to spend hours on Google.