Just because the bloke at the end of your street has “Fast Results Business Coach” plastered down the side of his 2004 Commodore doesn’t mean you should be following his advice. A mentor should be both experienced and trusted and an expert in your field, not just theirs. Only you can decide who you trust and who you will respond to in terms of learning and information transfer. When it comes to experience, I generally follow my own self-imposed ‘Rule of Five. Where possible, I want the person I’m seeking guidance from to be at least five times more experienced than I am.
Offer your services
Volunteering is one of the best ways to get up close and personal with someone who has more experience than yourself. What can you do for them in exchange for their expertise? Consider working for free. Prioritise learning over earning and use your imagination. Offer
to assist someone you want to learn from or a company you want to work for on an unpaid basis. If you stay focused on what you can give, you might just end up getting what you need back in return.
Word yourself up
A common mistake when thinking about mentorship is that it has to be in person. You can gain the knowledge and expertise of world class mentors simply by picking up a book. If you want to win at the game of life, you need to read. Bill Gates reads one book a week and Warren Buffett still devotes 80 per cent of his day to reading. Someone once told me that you can easily figure out how successful
someone is simply by the number of books they have in their home.
You’re more likely to get what you want in life if you ask for it, but you do need to learn how, when and who to ask. If someone is going to take the time to mentor or help you, there better be something in it for them. Certainly, there are people who will oblige simply
because you ask, but if you want a real longstanding relationship it needs to be based on fair exchange. Identify what makes you a person worth mentoring and what value you can add for your mentor.
Having a store of good questions you can draw on as you go about your day is probably the easiest way to get knowledge you don’t have to pay for. I know one young plumber who’s built his entire business asking other plumbers how they built theirs. He’ll make a very
healthy six figure profit this year and credits “about 90 per cent of it” as a direct result of speaking to other self-employed plumbers with more business experience than he has. Not bad for his first year in business!
Open your ears
Audio is probably the easiest place to start a journey of mentorship as it’s cheap and requires no sacrifice of time. Podcasts and audio books are great commuting companions and it works just as well to throw the ear buds in under the ear muffs on the weekend
while you mow the grass too. Find the style of mentor that suits you and give it a go. Or, if you’re a plumbing veteran, maybe it’s time to offer up some of your accumulated wisdom to the new kids coming through and become a mentor yourself. The trade depends on it.
Matt Reynolds is an award winning plumber who writes about the game as an industry insider. He hosts the Trench Talk podcast which is available on iTunes and most podcast platforms. You can connect with him on Twitter @MrMattReynolds or find him as the Director of XRM Plumbing Services on LinkedIn.