Finding mentors who will help you skip ahead in lineJul 20, 2022
A while back, a friend of mine told me a story about how one of his friends buys food at sporting events. We've all probably found ourselves wanting something to eat when we're at a large venue, but if the prices didn't scare us away, the long lines might have.
Instead of waiting in line, this person does something savvy and impressively creative. Most often, he walks up to the front of the line, asks the person standing there what they're ordering, then offers to buy their food for them if they will also add what he wants to their order. People always say "yes" to his offer, and he doesn't spend a half hour standing in line, missing the game.
I love that story and I seriously might try that someday, but there's a deeper lesson here that can be a huge help to us as we're trying to build our online platforms and develop our digital businesses. To save time and get ahead quickly, it might be wise for us to pay a little something for the opportunity to skip ahead in line.
This is counsel I honestly wish I learned to embrace much sooner. Looking back, I think I took far too long to look for ways to skip ahead. I wanted to build an online platform, but I took the slow approach. I was convinced that I needed to do everything myself, and I didn't want to spend money frivolously. So I took a long time to research my ideas and learned what I needed to do through much trial and error over the course of about seven years.
It would have been a much better investment of my time if I had paid for people to show me the way a little earlier. The goal is to find people who already are where you're trying to go and then do your best to learn from them. Basically, you're paying to gain access to their brain because it will save you time and teach you skills that you might not have realized you needed to focus on.
For starters, I think we would all benefit from setting aside a "mentor budget." Setting aside a little money that we can spend to access the knowledge of experts is a wise investment. It's like paying tuition to sit under the knowledge tree of your favorite entrepreneurs and content creators.
Setting aside a budget like this became a much easier concept for me to consider once my platform started generating an income. I became convinced that I needed to set aside some of that money to help me grow personally and professionally. I paid for courses, coaching, retreats, conferences, memberships, and a business mastermind with that revenue. And I can honestly say the investment was well worth it. The platforms I'm developing and the businesses I'm building have definitely grown faster than they would have if I only had my own ideas to rely on.
So, let's assume you agree with my premise that we all need a few mentors. Where can you find them? And, by the way, when you start getting a bunch of questions about what you're building, are you prepared to mentor someone else?
Mentors might be people you have direct access to, but in most contexts, your access to them will be indirect or through the products and content they're creating. Here are some of the places I have learned to look for mentors.
1. People you know
Admittedly, when my entrepreneurial journey began, I didn't know very many people who were actively involved in creating digital content and digitally delivered products, but I knew a few and I would seek their input on what I was working on. In time, however, through the connections I started making, my circle of relationships grew. Now I feel like I have an informal group of advisors that I can bounce ideas off and discuss my future plans and dreams.
2. Books you read
I'm a huge fan of reading short, non-fiction books that teach me how to do something new or how to do something I'm already doing better. Thankfully, books like that abound, and many of them are rather inexpensive. I love searching through Amazon's Kindle library to find inexpensive books that include the author's insights on specific skills. Just recently I bought a short book on blogging. Last Summer, I grabbed a book on coaching. There are tons of options available if you want to be mentored by authors who have excelled in areas that you'd like to learn more about.
3. Podcasts you listen to
One of my favorite ways to be mentored is through the podcasts I listen to. There is so much content available from podcasters, and so many ideas being shared through recorded audio. I have learned an immense amount of helpful information from people like Dan Miller, Nick Loper, Pat Flynn, Shane Sams, Brooke Castillo, and many others. I know three of those names personally at this point, but before I ever became friends with them, I was a regular listener of their shows, and I'm still listening.
4. Videos you watch
Over the course of the past year, I have spent a lot of time learning about the process of developing membership communities. I have dedicated many evenings to sitting down and watching content on YouTube that can help me develop what I'm building. I have watched many of Stu McLaren's videos and gleaned insights from him, but one of my favorite membership experts to learn from at present is Carrie Green who leads a membership community for female entrepreneurs. And even though I'm clearly not part of the demographic she's building her membership around, she has mentored me through her video content that reveals her business practices.
5. Courses you take
Another great way to be mentored is through online courses. Last year for my "Dwell On These Things" podcast, I interviewed Jonathan Milligan. Jonathan is the author of the book, "Your Message Matters," and I really appreciate the content he creates. After purchasing his book, I also purchased one of his mini-courses on content marketing and found it very helpful. It wasn't expensive at all, and through that course, I was mentored by someone who does an excellent job in the online marketing and messaging space.
6. Conferences you attend
Conferences are another great place to find mentors. I make a point to attend several each year. Not long ago, I attended Podfest in Orlando, Florida. At that conference, I became connected with people like Melissa Hughes and she taught me new things about social media. I also met Hala Taha, and she taught me more about advertising partnerships that have significantly boosted my monthly revenue.
7. Mentors you pay to gain access to
One other source of mentorship that I'm happy to pay for are the mentors I gain direct access to through membership communities and business masterminds. Even though I offer mentorship in these areas, I find it personally beneficial to invite others to coach and lead me as I'm building my platform. One such person is Vincent Pugliese, the author of "The Wealth of Connection." Several years ago, I joined Vincent's business mastermind, and in addition to the personal benefit I receive through our friendship, I also receive advice and inspiration from Vincent and the people he's brought together in his membership community.
Everyone needs a mentor
We all need mentors, whether we realize it or not. They will inform and inspire us. Good mentors will also help us develop new ideas while pointing out some of our blindspots. You may even discover that your mentors are helping you to connect with other people who speak your same language.
Let me encourage you to find several categories of mentors who can help you build what you're building so you can skip ahead in line and build your platform in record time.
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