Have you asked someone to mentor or sponsor you? Stop. People are busy. Or they're afraid of damaging you. Something that I learned working for myself that also made my full time jobs better is how to create co-workers and make mentors. Curate you who want to hang out with, support, and learn from. Work isn't a solitary exercise. Having people to "co" with makes everything better. Here’s how.
Be a good human
Years ago, I asked someone I admired to mentor me. Her answer: I'm busy. I was devastated. Years later, we reconnected. I had since made many mentors, so I knew what to do:
Help. Be of service. Don’t ask if you can help. Ask how you can help.
Be curious. Ask questions. Believe it or not, people love to be heard. It’s a great way to connect with people…especially if you’re a little bit shy like I am.
Do nice things without asking for permission. Made drinks/meals happen. Give gifts, if that’s your thing. The trick is that this has to come from the heart. If not. stop. Just stop. In fact, all of this has to come from the heart. If it doesn’t, you’re trying to woo the wrong person.
Be a connector. The stronger the ties in your network, the stronger your network.
The person I mention above is now a a friend…and mentor who I can call on when I have questions or need advice. She’s also a sponsor who promotes me often. She probably doesn’t think of herself as a mentor or sponsor, but I thank her and let her know how much I appreciate having her in my life. Often.
Schedule weekly 1:1s
Ask a few colleagues you think are cool to have weekly 1:1s with you. Sometimes these are short hellos. Sometimes more. It felt like a weird ask at first, but I've been having these 1:1s with friends for years. We talk work, life, dreams, frustrations, all of it.
Form a mastermind
If you're feeling super ambitious, form or join a mastermind group with other superheroes like you. Make sure this group has people who you can not just *learn* from, but also *teach.* You'll grow most when you do both. Even super busy people are keen to join a mastermind when they get value out of it. So reach out to people you admire! They just might say yes.
A note for introverts
If you're an introvert, like me, make sure you also build in blocks of quiet/alone time into your schedule to even things all of this socializing and co-ing with people. You're not a social butterfly, I know.
Attend conferences and workshops
This is not for everyone, but if you can stomach it, attend or speak at conferences. This is where I connect with and make new friends—many of whom become mentors. I'm too shy to befriend strangers, so when I attend (these days I’m more likely to speak than attend) I ask friends if they or anyone they know will be in attendance. I then meet that person and hang out with them. Lots. I've made many new friends this way.
Another note for introverts
If you're an introvert, don't overdo conferences. Limit how many you attend (everyone's threshold is different— find yours). And guard your on-site alone time/energy. Every hotel TV in the US (France, too, but it’s overdubbed) has Law and Order on between 8-10pm. That's where you'll find me at the end of the day.
Who will you convert?
Who do you admire? Be of service. Be curious. Be awesome. Be you. Give and you shall receive. And maybe make a new friend. I promise. It works.