No matter your age or level of experience, finding impactful mentorship is unquestionably valuable. Additionally, few would argue that being a mentor is also a hugely rewarding endeavor.
The question, “How do I find a mentor?” is age-old, and a frequent (and sometimes annoying) reply is, “When the student is ready, the teacher emerges.” Perhaps true, but what if we began to look at mentorship differently and flipped our current understanding of it’s set-up?
I invite you to consider co-mentorship, something in which I engaged recently.
What I mean is that my mentor partner and I mentor one another. After casually getting to know each other, we saw in one another strengths which the other desired to learn. It’s a mutual relationship of give and take.
I was looking to learn about digital marketing strategy and copywriting, and she had that experience in spades. She sought to learn about growing and scaling her startup, which I’ve done a couples times over. Thus, what began as a long-distance friendship, populated by random and infrequent phone calls or emails, turned into a mutual decision to pour into each other.
So, how do you find, and then engage in, a meaningful co-mentoring relationship?
Decide what you’re looking to learn
First determine in what area(s) you’re looking to grow. If you don’t know what you need, asking for help will be difficult. My co-mentor and I were both very clear on our current pain points, so we saw the antidote in one another.
Trust that you have expertise to share
A natural reaction to this might be, “What the heck do I have to offer a co-mentor?”. You do, and chances are good others will see what those things are more than you may. Going through this exercise to ask your network to help shed that sort of light for you about you may do the trick.
Look around your existing network
Co-mentors likely are already all around you. I’ve found it to be sort of like that phenomenon that once you start car shopping, you see the brand you just test drove everywhere. Your awareness makes it seem as such. And it’s no different when you begin to focus on the types of skills you’re seeking to learn. People will start popping out of the woodwork.
Also don’t be afraid to leverage your connections by asking them to make recommendations and introduce you. Then, simply get to know each other and see if you hit it off and would both benefit from a co-mentorship. It can be much less awkward then seeking a mentor simply to help you, because in this case you’re sharing value equally.
Create the rules of engagement
It’s up to you how you structure your mentorship (or don’t). However, it’s important to get on the same page so your expectations are aligned. We keep our relationship fluid and invite one another to reach out when we want or need to. Sometimes I’ll call her two days in a row, and other times two weeks will pass and we won’t connect at all.
Decide if you’d like to schedule time or keep it flexible, and how you’d like to meet and spend your time. We do so by text, email, phone and video chat, and let circumstances dictate.
Hold yourself and your partner accountable
It’s one thing to ask for and give advice. It’s another to do something about it and to hold the other person accountable. You’ll want to create a safe space to do this.
Let it end
Like any relationship, there may be an expiration date. Don’t fret thinking you’re committing to something forever. Just like choosing the rules of engagement, you can decide together if this is short term, rolling, or longer-term. See what works for you both and feels rewarding.
Originally published at www.forbes.com