“Call me in 5 or 10 minutes and tell me you need me,” I begged my friend while I was pretending to go to the bathroom.
I was on a blind date. The girl was nice but not my type. It was the opposite of love at first sight. I had already driven 45 minutes to meet her in the parking lot of a restaurant. Her profile picture was only enough for me to recognize her face. I guess I shouldn’t be so vain. I went ahead with it and went in to the restaurant.
“I don’t know what to order,” she mused. I don’t like dumb girls. Minus 1000.
“What do you normally order?”
“I don’t know, chicken strips.” A child’s meal. I don’t want to date a kid. Minus 2000.
I ordered a chocolate lava cake because I had already ate before I came (in case this happened). This blew her mind. I don’t like people who lack creativity. Minus 3000.
After the meal I tried to let her know that I was not interested and we should part ways.
“What are you doing the rest of today?” she asked. “We could go see my sister.” Who wants to meet family on a first date?
“I have to go buy cat litter,” which was true and the most uninteresting thing I could think of to shake her.
“Great! I’ll come with you” Clingy. Minus 10,000.
“Well there is a store right there, I am just going to walk.” Trying to discourage her.
At the store I excused myself and went to the bathroom to make the call. “Call me in 5 or 10 minutes and tell me you need me,” I begged my friend. She did and said she had a flat tire and needed my assistance. I played it up when I got her call and told the blind date I was so sorry but I had to go. The date still tried to make plans with me later.
I called my friend as I drove away and explained what was going on and thanked her profusely.
Having a blind date is like getting matched up with a mentor through a program.
Sarah reminded when it comes to getting a mentor that it rarely works out with a third party gets involved to set you up. I have had similar bad luck when getting “matched” up to be a mentor. She had been set up with a nice older lady who was kind and caring. The problem was the two of them did not share much in common. The commitment level to the process was just not there. This is a major issue in these type of things due to the ambiguous nature of a mentorship relationship.
Ideally it is something more than just a few meetings. That it is sharing life together. I am thinking of churches and discipleship here especially. I think the thin line between mentorship and discipleship is negligible so I will basically use them interchangeably. However unless there is that connection between the two people it breaks down to a few meetings that usually lack direction. Even if you follow a plan and have a goal, discipleship cannot be boiled down and captured into a formula that can be “accomplished”. It is an ongoing forever thing.
I had an idea for churches who want to expand their discipleship programs. Instead of having people fill out a card and checking if they want to be “discipled” or be a “discipler”, do this. Have a series of group get together. Have real life activities that people want to be involved in and that facilitate people talking to each other. While there people will be reminded and encouraged that if they find someone who is friendly that they want to be mentored by then they should ask.
It does not have to be someone older. It does not have to be for a long time. It should be something more than just someone else pairing up cards that were checked “discipled” or “discipler”.
I don’t know this sounds kinda cheesy too. Whatever. Try it. It might work.
The goal today is to have 10 ideas of things to do to prepare for meeting your mentor. To go beyond simple ways to prepare. Simple things are reading everything your want-to-be-mentor has written. Or as much as humanly possible. Listen to any audio podcasts and watch things such as YouTube videos and TED Talks that your want-to-be-mentor has been in. Try out the ideas your want-to-be-mentor suggests. Like I am with Claudia’s book here on my blog.
Become their student before you meet them.
Why? Because it takes preparation to get someone you don’t know to talk to you. Think about it. Some stranger comes up to you and wants to talk to you but has nothing to say.
The other day I wrote: “Usually I am not looking for mentors because I don’t really value what people have to say about things that don’t have to affect my life. Is that selfish? If so I guess that is supposed to be wrong. But it is honest. If something is not directly impacting or applicable to me then I don’t usually care.”
And I suppose other people are similar in that they want you to have something to say that is about THEIR interests. Which for almost all humans is themselves. People seem to always be interested in what they do and are doing. If you become their student before you meet them then you will instantly have a something to say that they will want to listen to.
1. Prepare List Of Questions To Ask Them
You need to have an idea of what you want to know from them. Meeting them and then talking about the weather would not be meaningful or productive. They might be kind enough to do it. But probably want to leave asap. Have something to ask them about themselves and then you will never run out of things to talk about.
This is a technique from How to Win Friends and Influence People.
2. Follow Them On Social Media
If you are not following them online then you are probably not reading their work anyways.
3. Prepare A Request (A Direction Or Action You Want Them To Do With A Timeline)
“Everyone’s got an angle,” said the guy in White Christmas. Have a goal in mind for the meeting. Nothing is worse than wasting time. The request should ideally be a way you could help them and not the other way around. Have some specific course of action and maybe even a timeline or deadline. This will make it meaningful. Hopefully.
4. Figure Out Who They Are Connected To And Read, Listen And Try Their Ideas
The friend of my friend is my friend. If you are not friends with or following or up to date on the people your prospective mentor is into then you need to be. That is how you will be able to make a real lasting connection.
5. Figure Out How You Want To Present Yourself (Clothes, Your 30 Second Speech, Prepare What To Talk About Yourself)
First off don’t think you have to meet in person. You might meet over the phone or online in a video chat. These are not less good. In fact they may even be more good because as people we have to be in a finite space in the world but the internet allows us to travel without leaving home.
Still even on a video chat you might want to consider your presentableness. Have you showered? Put on a suit (at least from the waist up?)
Know what to say right away. Have your 30 second elevator speech memorized so you can feel confident. Know what to talk about (see preparing questions above).
6. Figure Out What Exactly Is Mentoring And The Mentor/Mentee Relationship
The relationship will not be if you have no idea what you are doing or why you are doing it. Is it going to be a weekly meeting at lunch until forever? Is there a certain set of books you want to read together for an hour every month and discuss? Do you just want to drain their brain? Is it a give and take or just a take?
Have clear expectations and boundaries. Make sure both parties agree.
7. Come Up With 10 Ideas To Expand Or Better An Idea They Have
If you are going to approach someone, have something of value to add to what they are doing. Give them these ideas for free. Like James says, they are probably bad ideas anyways. It would be wrong and rude to make someone pay you for a bad idea Plus they may have already thought of it and decided against it. You never know so just give freely.
8. Relax They Are Human Too
If you do get to meet someone chill out!
They are just a human. Celebrity or no. Rockstar or no. They have to eat, sleep and well you know… everyone poops.
Don’t put them on a pedestal in your mind. Or in real life. That would be weird. Don’t pick up others without permission.
You can always pretend none of this ever happened. You will probably forget about it 5 years anyways.
9. Brush Your Teeth And Eat A Good Breakfast
Even if you are meeting online. You will feel better for it. It is always good to take care of your body. It will improve your day.
10. Request The Meeting
Don’t forget to actually request to talk with them. Unless you just happen to run into them. Then apologize and help them pickup their stuff. Then mumble something and hurry away. Then brag to your friends about the time you met “so-and-so”.
But seriously, you need to ask to make it happen. And if you are prepared it will hopefully go well. Or see number eight above and pretend it never happened.
“Call me in 5 or 10 minutes and tell me you need me,” I would text someone if I was in a bad meeting and then when they did I would leave.