Mentoring can seem elusive.

How do you find mentors?

What do you say when you meet a potential mentor?

Thankfully, mentoring experiences don’t have to be difficult to create. You just need a strategy.

Andy Crestodina, founder of Orbit Media, shared a great strategy that you can use to create mentoring experiences WITHOUT formally asking someone to be your mentor.

Andy said, “Whenever I hear ‘strategy’ I translate that into a plan to reach a goal.” For the sake of this blog post, we’ll say that your goal is to have more successful mentoring experiences. Here’s how to do that. Let’s start by looking at…

The biggest mentorship failure

The biggest failure for mentorship is never trying and never reaching out to people who might be able to mentor you. Failure only happens when you didn’t create the mentoring experience because you didn’t search for and find that person, connect with them and ask for help.

In short, lack of asking creates lack of mentors.

The trick is to take the initiative and just find someone, reach out and start that conversation. You don’t even have to use the word mentorship or ask, “Will you be my mentor?”

It doesn’t have to be “official.” In fact, making it “official” can add pressure and make it more difficult to succeed with your plans to reach your goal.

What some people do instead

Andy used to hold office hours every week. Anybody could sign up and spend an hour with him to talk about whatever they wanted. Some people spent most of the time with small talk. The successful people spent most of the time talking about their goals and what strategies they were using to reach them.

People like Brittany came back again and again. Instead of small talk, she would come in with a plan and want to talk about specific things she was and wasn’t doing to achieve goals. Each time she would leave with new ideas from Andy, go out into the world, put the ideas into action and then come back to discuss the new results she was getting – and to find out how to get additional results.

That continuity to their conversations made Andy feel more committed to helping Brittany succeed.

What you can do instead

What does Brittany’s story mean to you?

Her plan can be your action plan. Instead of asking someone to (formally) be your mentor, ask them for help with a specific problem that you’re facing. Take great notes during the conversation and then go take ACTION with what you’ve learned.

Once you get new results, go back to that person and ask for help with new problems you’re facing and new opportunities that you want to create.

You’ll eventually build a relationship without ever asking that person to be your mentor. You’ll get all the results with none of the pressure.