by Elizabeth Colegrove
You know the question on the Forums, the one about mentors?
I mean this in the nicest way, but every time I see a request for a mentor on the Forums, a rush of emotions comes across me. It makes me want to:
- Get discouraged
- Think to myself, “You idiot.”
… all internally, of course.
I am a huge believer in paying it forward and that we all start somewhere. I would never humiliate anyone because I was there. We’ve all been there, at the beginning. Asking the stupid question — because there is no stupid question, right?
Therefore, I am writing this article to all those newbies. This article is for you! We, those with a few more “life experiences” under our belts, don’t always explain all of these points, but trust me, we are here to help you! This is the nicest “slap” across the head one can provide — think Jethro on NCIS!
The question about attracting mentors gets asked often, so it is not answered in as much detail anymore. Those who have answered in the past get tired of re-answering the same questions over and over. So think of this as the in-depth answer that I want to give to all those who have asked this question, but haven’t gotten a comprehensive response.
Please note that this is to be taken as constructive feedback. If I didn’t care, I wouldn’t have spent hours writing it. So let’s get started. Here’s why I react in the above-mentioned ways to the “mentor question” posed by newbies.
Why it Makes Me Want to Laugh
BiggerPockets is the best mentor out there. You have come to a site FULL of people who are providing their time and energy to give back! This is the BEST mentor one could ever get. Many members’ entire goal is to network, pay it forward and learn more. There is no “cheating” on this mentor because you are not stuck with one person. You have thousands of people giving back for free. There are multiple opinions on the same areas. Mostly everyone on the site, including myself writing this article, is doing it for FREE!
So why are asking for a mentor? You have literally more resources than you could EVER use right here!
Create a plan on WHY you need a mentor. What do you need from them that the free online places such as BP can’t provide?
Why it Makes Me Want to Cry
I am a business woman. I believe in taking care of others, but remember — this is also a business! Why should a mentor help you outside of BP? What value do you have to give back for them basically training a competitor? In the business world, a company gets a service for training and paying you. Even an unpaid internship is providing value by completing work. Remember, the people you want to help you are super successful. That means they are going to making the big bucks, and that usually takes hard work and long hours. Time is money.
What are you going to do for this mentor? Why should they train you? What difference are you going to make so that your time is their money?
Why it Makes Me Want to Yell
Remember your manners and who you are asking. You are a newbie! You are asking for help. So don’t be cocky, obnoxious, and all-consuming. Commanding anyone to help or teach you is not going to help! Yes, you might be clueless, flustered and need a place to start. Remember that being humble is worth a ton.
Think of it this way: Would you go to the CEO of a company and TELL him to help you? You have no idea what these people do! You may notice over time that the quietest people provide the best information. Those who are successful will not go toe to toe with you traditionally. They will back off and let you fall.
The reason I say “yell” is because I have met some amazing people all because we bonded over the newbies who push so hard, they alienate all kinds of potential allies.
Treat everyone you are asking for help from as the you would the President of a prestigious company! I am not saying “kiss up.” I am saying treat them with respect, and think about what they are saying. I am not suggesting to follow that advice blindly, but to listen to those who challenge your thinking and comfort zone. You are here to learn, and that starts with questioning and evaluating everyone’s comments. While I usually dismiss the majority, listening to the minority, valuable advice has been the one of the most significant, impactful things to my business.
Why it Makes Me Want to Smile
I am still happy that people are asking. If you don’t start somewhere, you will never go anywhere. I am happy for the “point” of the question. I love that fact that people gather up the courage to speak out and ask questions. The internet can be a hard medium through which to make connections because one doesn’t have the traditional face-to-face or voice-to-voice interaction, as in person or on the phone.
Take the plunge and ask for help. You might make me go through all these emotions, but participate! That is why we are here. While we might get mad at what you are saying, we are still happy you are here. So take the criticism as constructive and keep going. Before you know it, you will be on the Podcast, posting in the Success Stories Forum and writing on the Member Blogs!
Why it Discourages Me
The Forums are dynamic and amazing. You have new people coming on and depending on the knowledge of the regulars. I see the same questions over and over. That being said, they aren’t always answered to the same degree every time. You see, people try to link the posts and then have similar posts at the bottom of the forum thread. That being said, there are still some great articles that people tend to miss out on.
Read the responses to your post, but also use the “search” button to find past conversations on the blog and in the Forums. Make sure you look for other sources on this subject as well.
Why it Makes Me Say, “You Idiot.”
You know what is the worst? When people do take the time to answer newbies, and then the newbie picks a fights with them! The crazy thing to me is when people chew out those who are trying to “help” them.
Don’t be an idiot. Keep an open mind. No one is MAKING you do anything. These people are just trying to help. If you don’t want to keep an open mind and be helped, then don’t post. Trust me, my life philosophy has been “shattered” more than I would like to acknowledge.
So now do you get picture that asking for a mentor is just the beginning — not the end? Don’t be lazy and take the easy way out — because you will only fail. Being successful is hard work, and you have to use people as tools; no one holds “the secret” to success. Bill Gates, while he gives back and empowers through his foundation, doesn’t take people under his wings to “give them all the secrets” or to simply dole out wealth.
What are your feelings about the mentor question? What words of advice would you give to newbies?
Leave a comment below, and let’s talk!
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