Category Archives: Asking for Help

It is ok to ask for help. No-one expects you to go down this journey alone. Learn HOW to ask for help.

Ways to Find a Mentor

A CEO of a software company reached out to me once and asked me to take a 20-minute meeting to review his strategy/execution software. Sounds low-key, right? I put forth a requirement to do the meeting. I also implied he could show me how his software fit into a model. But he said “No, thanks”. And disappeared. I find this behaviour odd, don’t you? But at one level, I don’t find it odd at all.

He was unwilling to do the homework to do a successful meeting. He had no idea what he wanted. He asked for an unrealistic time frame to create any real value. He was simply trolling for meetings, which maybe gave him the illusion of progress, but I was sure he was not making actual progress.

Likewise, if you want a mentor or an advisor, here’s some simple ways to get one and to have it work for you:

  1. Know what you want. Your own discernment starts the learning process so you are only helping yourself. The more specific you are, the better. This will help you get a good match.
  2. Before asking, do your homework. You’ve heard me say this before it is so easy to find out about people. Slideshare, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, blogging. Seriously, it takes just a little bit to find out about people. Know what the person cares about. Dig beyond page 2 of the Google search. Find out why they would want to help someone else. Ideally, you can find a connection so that you can be introduced, which will increase your odds of getting a “yes”.
  3. It’s their terms. If they hike, offer to go on a hike with them. Even if they live another 100 miles away, plan on going to them. Make it easy for them to say yes by doing all the heavy lifting. Write the blurb draft, do whatever to make it easy for them to help you.
  4. Charm. Use it. Don’t have it? Learn it. Charm never hurts. Remember that you’re doing an ask so give them room to say no. That way, you can come back to them later without losing that opportunity.
  5. Do your part. When I help people, I’m putting in my X number years of experience into condensed simple-sounding lessons. My mentee’s job is to apply those lessons and get going. Well to be honest, you have 3 choices to: ask a clarifying question, explain why you won’t do it, or do it. But those are your only 3 options. Don’t ignore the advice of your mentor and then expect that relationship to continue. That’s your part of the bargain. Make things happen by using the lessons you learn,then circle back and tell them what you did because it reflects on them too.

Mentors and advisors have made the world of difference to me in my career and in my life. The best are the ones I meet for wine and we can have fun and learn with each other.

I’m grateful and amazed. It’s one reason why I love helping other people. The fact that I put a hurdle in the way? Well, that’s just a way of making sure the person is ready, we’re aligned, and something good can come from the time together.

Written by Nilofer Merchant
Adapted from Want A Mentor? Do Your Homework First, published in Women 2.0

Women and Mentoring in the U.S.

LinkedIn’s survey of nearly 1,000 female professionals in the U.S. found that 82% of women agree that having a mentor is important.

But what will knock your socks off is that considering the competitive employment landscape, and the universal belief that mentorship is a critical component to career success, 19% (that’s nearly 1 out of every 5 women) have NEVER had a mentor.

Here is an infographic from LinkedIn:

mentoring, women 2.0

Whether you are one of those people who have yet to take advantage of this career-advancing relationship or if you want to add another to your repertoire (yes, you can have more than one) here’s what you need to know.

A Reason, a Season or a Lifetime

Start with the goal in mind. While typically referring to friendships, I find this is one of the most effective ways of wrapping your head around what you’re looking for in a mentor.

Before you can address the where and how of it all, it comes down to having a very clear view of what you’re looking for.

Whether it be the insight of an expert to help answer a specific question that’s haunting you, or finding someone you want to emulate for their poise and integrity; the better you’re able to define what you’re looking for, the more apt you are to find it.

Always Be On The Lookout

If there’s one piece of advice when it comes to finding a mentor it’s to think outside the box. We can easily get stuck thinking of mentorship as this formal, official way of relating to people in business; however, by narrowing our definition of who can help guide us in our careers, we can miss out on the potential mentors who are right under our noses (our neighbors, direct colleagues or even our relatives).

More importantly, it ignores those we may have never met in our life but would be happy to answer a quick question if you make a common connection online.

Try doing an Advanced People Search on LinkedIn and look for a mentor by narrowing your search parameters.

For example, because you can use LinkedIn to search for professionals by their title and the university that they attended, you could search for the following professionals: “current vice presidents of marketing that attended New York University” and try to connect with people by mentioning your shared alma mater.

You can even narrow the results down to your zip code so you can meet up with someone right in your own city.

“Will You be My Mentor?”

You’re not going to get anywhere if you’re not willing to ask, “Will you be my mentor?”

In general, people, especially successful people, want to help others by sharing the knowledge they’ve gained. While you don’t have to pose the question quite so formally, you do need to ask it.

Unless someone is actively seeking a mentee, you have to be proactive and set the grounds for a deeper relationship. In fact, 67% of the women LinkedIn surveyed said they had never mentored another professional because, “no one had ever asked.”

And here’s the deal: When asking, don’t make it sound like a death sentence.

Mentorship is responsible work but if there isn’t a promise of fun, initiative or excitement on your part (which can literally be conveyed by having a smile on your face), don’t expect your would-be mentor to embrace the opportunity to help you.

Quid Pro Quo

While the purpose of having a mentor is to further your learning and career, don’t forget that mentorship is a two-way street. You’re going to get more out of your relationship with your mentor if you:

  • Don’t expect them to do the heavy lifting for you
  • You make it easy on them (think closer to her office than yours when meeting face-to-face, and…
  • They are receiving something in return for their help
Don’t Underestimate The Effects of Reciprocity

While you want your gift back to be as work-related as possible, you can make the gift as thoughtful as possible. For e.g. save your mentee time that she can spend on you. Whether it’s taking care of her kids or organizing her closet, you need to show your mentor that you’re grateful for their guidance — and, frankly, actions speak louder than words.

Written by Nicole Williams
Adapted from Women and Mentoring in the U.S., published by Women 2.0

How Coaching Advice Advances Career

In this Capture Your Flag interview, legal career advisor James McCormick answers: “At this moment of your life, where are you seeking advice and coaching?” He shares how his fellow partners and business colleagues provide him experienced insight into new perspectives and points of view and how his approach is transferable into personal matters such as living fully and raising a family. James McCormick is a Partner at Empire Search Partners in New York City. Previously, he practiced law as an employee benefits and executive compensation attorney for Proskauer Rose and Jones Day. He earned a JD at Tulane Law School and a BA in History at the University of Michigan.

Video Created by Capture Your Flag
Retrieved from How Coaching Advice Advances Career – James McCormick

How Curiosity Benefits Relationship Building

In this Capture Your Flag interview with host Erik Michielsen, executive and private life coach Garren Katz shares how his curiosity and listening skills help him advice others on career and life. Constant curiosity helps Garren uncover answers his clients already know but are too often unable or unwilling to address and engage. Garren is a graduate of Western Michigan University and coaches clients on areas such as entrepreneurship, relationships, and personal finances.

Learn more about Garren at his website.

Video created by Capture Your Flag