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How to Find a Mentor

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“Hey, Mr. Stark, will you be my mentor?” 

You go to an ACCA conference knowing Mr. Stark will be there, but you don’t know him and have never corresponded with him. You intend to ask the Industry Hall of Famer to be your mentor. 

Don’t do that. 

Let’s see how Susan, the GM of a four-million-dollar HVAC company, handles this. 

Susan is a close follower of Gallup, Inc.’s teachings. She’s read It’s the Manager and Culture Shock by Jim Clifton and Jim Harter, Gallup’s Chairman and Chief Science Officer, respectively.  

Susan knows 21st-century contractors have moved on from the annual coworker review. She’s tried to practice their five recommended coaching conversations, but they’ve been awkward. Knowing that Mr. Stark is also a Gallup management practices student, she reaches out to him. 

Mr. Stark reads Susan’s email and agrees to meet with her for a 20-minute Zoom call.  

Mindful of the time commitment, Susan thanked Mr. Stark for his time, asked if it would be okay to contact him again later, and ended the call on time. 

Susan then hand-writes a thank you note to Mr. Stark, recapping one point that resonated with her. She mails it before the end of the day. 

The coaching calls with her coworkers begin to get better. Susan sends Mr. Stark a note describing the positive results and thanks him again. 

Knowing Mr. Stark will be attending an upcoming ACCA event, Susan sends him an email asking him to meet with her for 20 minutes. They meet at the event and because Susan has been respectful and grateful, Mr. Stark asks her if she wants to extend the conversation.  

Later, Susan sends out another handwritten note of thanks to Mr. Stark. 

Guess what happens! 

Mr. Stark reaches out and checks in with Susan in the future. What’s more, he begins talking about Susan glowingly to other high-level owners like himself.  

Mr. Stark becomes Susan’s mentor. 

 A mentor wants to: 

  • Be respected 
  • Have their time respected 
  • Be listened to 
  • Know that people take their advice seriously 
  • Know when their advice is used 
  • Know the results of their advice 
  • Receive gratitude 

Instead of asking someone to be your mentor, ask for advice. Be respectful and gracious. Ask for permission to contact them again in the future with a question. Follow up with a handwritten note of thanks, citing at least one takeaway. Let them know in the future when the advice they’ve given has been used and has had a positive impact.  

This last point is critical. Many professionals willingly give advice away, not expecting anything in return. Some receive a thank-you. Most, however, have yet to receive notice of when their advice made a positive impact. For many, this notification is worth more than money. 

Employ the process described above, and you will stand out in the eyes of the advice-giver-hopefully-turned-mentor. Folks like this can help supercharge your career. 

“Hey, Mr. Stark, thanks for being my mentor!” 

Dave Rothacker
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Posted In: ACCA Now, Leadership Development

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