Want a mentor? How to connect with someone you admire – MadSkills

Military spouses have relationship building on the lockdown — it’s one of our many MadSkills. So when it comes to our careers, why’s it so hard to find a mentor?

I’ve asked myself this question a lot. Finding a mentor hasn’t been my forte. Once I asked a college professor “Will you be my mentor?” It didn’t work. Don’t try this approach. It’s like asking someone to marry you on the first date. I even signed up for a Military Spouse eMentor through Hiring Our Heroes. The relationship fizzled after one phone call.

Frustrated by my many failed attempts, I decided to take a new approach. With a little creativity, here’s what I learned:

1. Military spouses are unique.

As an Army wife who’s moved five times in eight years, my career path is the one less traveled. Thus, it’s hard for others to relate. So as spouses we must be specific in our career goals to help narrow the search. Ask yourself, “What is it I really want to do?”

2. Relationships can form without knowing each other.

Once you know your direction, identify a person you respect in the industry you want to work. Choose someone you admire who has reached the career success you want. Make them your target mentor. And don’t limit yourself to someone you know. Think big.

Take time to learn from them. Study their website, blogs, books, newsletters, and free offers. Buy their product, take their course, join their mastermind group. Whatever it may be, absorb yourself in what they have to offer.

I did this with Jess Lively, podcast host of the Lively Show. I’ve spent countless hours with her listening, reading, and learning. She’s helped me identify my core values and has guided me to a career and life I love. Even though I do not know Jess personally, she is my mentor. Every day I am grateful for her sincere advice, wisdom, and truths.

3. People want to know you’re a fan.

Whether you’re studying someone in person or from afar, let them know you’re a fan. Get their attention through genuine engagement. Comment on their social media or pull them aside and compliment their work. Forward them an email with a link or resource they’d find valuable. Find heartfelt ways to show support and excitement for what they’re doing. Guaranteed, they will take note of your admiration.

4. Ease into a relationship.

Now that your secret mentor knows you’re a fan, ease your way into a relationship. Don’t ask for too much, too soon. And remember, they’re busy. Not everyone has time for coffee, so get creative for their attention.

Jon Acuff, the author of Do Over, suggests an email that says, “I admire where you are in your career. What’s one book you recommend I read right now?” Read their recommendation and then send a follow-up email thanking them. Include a list of three things you learned.

Another way to get their attention is to give something of value or offer to help in some way. One military spouse I know proposed to assist a paleo blogger with her Pinterest account. A relationship formed and she became her marketing manager. Today the blogger is a New York Times best-selling author and award-winning podcaster. My friend’s willingness to give taught her more than she could’ve ever asked.

With a mentor’s help, you can go a long way. Now that you know how to find one start looking. Once you find someone you admire, put in the hard work and reap the reward.

Are you a military spouse entrepreneur looking to connect with a seasoned professional? Check out the new SBA and DoD online mentoring forum here.

Follow other successful military spouse professionals at @Hire_MadSkills. We promise to connect you with the best of the best. You can also check out more of our blogs featuring valuable career advice HERE.

I’ve already shared MadSkills with all the spouses in our FRG and plan to keep spreading the word. It’s been a great tool for finding remote/telecommute opportunities!

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