How to Create a Great Mentoring Relationship

Everyone who is passionate about being a business owner or moving up needs and wants a mentor. Maybe there is someone you know or you just know of who can help you to take your life to the next level. How can you get that person to happily share their wisdom with you to help you get on the right path? How can you rise above the rest so that person wants to give you extra help?

I've been a mentor to certain people for years, but never more intensively than in the last four years as a marketing trainer and coach and now as a published author of my book, "Testosterone-Free Marketing." This article will help you to know how to approach a mentor in a way that will make that person more positively pre-disposed to helping you succeed. Read these tips and go find your mentor.

• Take an interest in the person as a human being. I have an Internet mentor who makes millions of dollars a year. After I ask a question I always ask him about what’s going on in his life, share a joke or tell him something funny that’s happened to me. For example yesterday I wrote him and after asking a question I typed, “Tomorrow I’m speaking in a seminar, so right now I’m sitting in my hotel room catching up on emails with hair dye on top of my head.” He wrote back that he laughed so hard he almost fell off his chair. You don’t have to tell your whole life story, but make yourself real and make it light and fun.

• Don’t say, “I’d like to pick your brain.” My brain “done been picked dry” and I start feeling bored when I hear those words. I know the time I spend with that person will be an interrogation. Instead say something like, “I would genuinely value your opinion.” It’s gentler and I get the sense that it will be a more pleasant conversation rather than an interrogation with harsh lights shining down.

• Don’t try to monopolize a lot of your mentors time at first. Connect in a way that’s quick and easy. Don’t invite them to a dinner that will be a two hour time commitment. If you’re at a seminar they probably have meetings scheduled. If it’s at home, they probably want some “down-time.” Offer to drive them to the airport or share a cab. Ask what they like in their coffee or tea and get 15 quality minutes. That may be all you need.

• Be clear about what you’re doing and what you need. There is so much “mucky thinking” in the world. I’m amazed people feel they have to write five pages to express one idea. That means you don’t really know what you’re talking about. Develop a clear "elevator speech" and mission statement. Think about one or two specific questions you need answered and consider your words and how to ask those questions clearly.

• Listen, listen, listen to what they say. Don’t think about all the reasons why you can’t. That’s part of the reason why you’re not there yet. Say, “I’m dealing with yada, yada, yada – how would you suggest overcoming those obstacles?"

• Don’t say, “I’m looking for a mentor.” It’s easy to deflect a statement like this and not make a commitment with a smile. Instead say, “Would it be okay with you if we connected by email or on the phone once in awhile to get your opinion.” It would be hard to say “no” to a simple request like that.

• Thank the person for their time. Tell them what you’re going to do and then when you take action, be sure to let them know what you’re doing. Always, always, always tell them when you take an action step.

• Reciprocate once in awhile. If you see a great article you think they would enjoy – send it with a quick note. If you have a trade or a skill and can offer to help them out in some way – offer it. Don’t say, “How can I help you?” Then they have to figure it out. Say, “I’m really very good at _____. If you ever need _____ give me a call, I’ll be more than happy to help out any way I can.” Even if they never take you up on it, they will appreciate that you offered.

• Learn to make the link between cause and effect. Don’t put your mentor in a position where he/she has to figure it all out for you. You’re not a baby. A mentor is not supposed to take you by the hand every step of the way. They point you in the right direction and you take it from there. Look in the dictionary under “mentor.” It’s all about giving you some guidance as you’re on your way. Your job is to make the link between what you are told and how you apply it to your life. A coach is someone you pay for to take you by the hand and hold you accountable.

With over two decades successful experience in sales, advertising, public relations, market research and planning, Denise Michaels has worked with top authors and seminar leaders. Author of “Testosterone-Free Marketing” you can discover more about Denise online at Or, email her at:

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