How to Get and Keep a Mentor: Why Nobody Wants Your Coffee Offer

I am on a blogging marathon promoting of my upcoming 3rd book (28 October 2015), The Anxious Entrepreneur. Pre-order it at up to 40% discount.

I can’t recall how many times but I did propose to buy coffee to people I wanted mentorship from.

A mentor is someone more prominent than me, right? How the hell do I suppose I will attract Brian Joffe to meet me, all because I offered to buy him coffee?

He can afford way more than his own coffee and can only drink so much. I am sure he has coffee invites from Zimbabwe to Zanzibar.

Had inviting people out for coffee been that intriguing, I would have invited Azania many times. How I wish.

A mentor is important in that they can save you from making stupid mistakes and loses, and introduce you to prospective clients.

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How to get a mentor

I often get mentorship requests via email or social media. Most of those never go anywhere.

I do have mentors. Real and virtual ones. Virtual could mean reading Richard Branson’s biography, reading Marc Cuban’s blog or following Lebo Gunguluza’s story.

The thing about mentorship is it isn’t formal. What happens after you ask someone to mentor you? You can’t nag them with meetings and calls all month. A relationship based on you always needing never lasts. It runs out of steam. The ever needed party gets bored, then annoyed.

Let me give an example of one my now mentors, Bra Noel Ndlhvu of Spaza News. I made a blind call to him, briefed him of a free book I am writing and asked for his articles to be included.

It pleased him that someone is interested in his articles and wants to in essence advertise them further. It gave or aroused a good emotion in him.

Now and then he and I meet; I listen to what he is working on, help or advice how I can. In exchange, he also gives me a whole lot of advice.

You see, he’s is more experienced than me in business, but still I try offer him something. So the relationship doesn’t get boring (one sided).

Some steps to get a mentor:

  • Identify them.
  • Be interested in what they have done.
  • Introduce yourself.
  • Inquire from them about the particular interest you have of them.
  • Figure out what they are working on.
  • Become useful and think of ways you can help out (for free).

I have had good mentors. Some I lost contact with and some I suspect hate my guts, for reasons I cannot write about (or yet). “Some mentors will eventually hate you”, someone said.