Once you decide that working with a Peer-Mentor (or several) will be beneficial to you, where and how will you find one? Well, once you begin looking, you’ll find potential “Success Buddies” are all around you.
- At your regular job. There may be people around who have different job descriptions or functions, but you may like them and find they have skills that you would like to learn. You might want to invite one of them to lunch with you or coffee, tell them about this new technique that you’re learning about, and discuss whether they might be interested in exploring this with you.
- In your company or organization other departments. You may have occasion to meet or interact with people in different parts of your organization simply through the everyday workings of your job. Or you might meet people in Inter-department teams or task forces. Or even at the company’s softball team (we will get to non-business activities in just a moment.) At these kinds of meetings, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to see people’s skills and character in action (also their deficiencies or flaws). If you do see someone who looks promising you can invite him/her for a meal or coffee to talk about it further. What do you have to lose? If they’re not interested in forming a Peer-Mentor relationship with you, you might make a new friend.
- In Training or Professional Development Meetings. In this kind of setting, you may be meeting people from different organizations or companies, different departments or areas of your own organization, or even countries or states far from your own. You are all learning together, so it’s a great way to observe how someone interacts with the Instructor, with other students, and what skills or bright spots they exhibit. Again, you can take the initiative to ask the person to sit down with you sometime during the event, to discuss this new educational tool you have discovered.
- Work Travel. This could be one of the best opportunities of all – if you go to a conference, there may indeed be some of your colleagues attending, but there will likely be hundreds, maybe even thousands, of other interesting people you don’t know. Of course you may only get to a fraction of them, but one nice thing is that you can get lots of practice in approaching strangers, at pretty low risk, because you’ll probably never see them again.
- Extra-curricular activities. You may find people in settings other than the work or professional spheres. For example, at your place of worship – and related activities, such as fund-raisers, charitable activities, receptions, Holiday preparations. All of these give you a chance to observe other people on their “off” time. You may observe how they interact on a volunteer project team, how do they behave one-on-one?
Do you participate in team sports, play bridge or Scrabble regularly with the same people, belong to a choir or other musical group, go to a book club, a trivia group? All of these may present great opportunities to see people in a different light, get to know them, assess their suitability as a Peer-Mentor, and approach them with the idea. If they’re not interested, nothing lost. And the best thing about finding a Peer Mentor in these situations is that you already have a common interest – beyond that, the success of your Peer Mentor partnership will lie in your shared commitment, ability to focus on your goals and willingness to support each other.
- The Best for Last – the world online. These days, we don’t even have to leave the house to find tens, hundreds, thousands of “contacts”, “friends”, “connections” to consider as Peer-Mentors. Of course, as with all relationships, you must take the time to get to know, like and trust the one or more people you may have identified as a potential Peer-Mentor. For example, you may begin as members of the same professional group on LinkedIn, then move to emailing each other directly, then arrange for a one-time Skype call, then more regular Skype calls, and then possibly come up with a project to work on together.
This was how I met Sandy Chernoff, a consultant and trainer in Vancouver. We connected via LinkedIn, started emailing each other, and then proceeded to a bi-weekly “standing” Skype appointment. We were both working on writing projects, and provided a “progress report” to each other during those calls. The content of our projects wasn’t really important, it was the process that counted. After several conversations, we learned that she was working on an e-learning curriculum, and I was writing this book. For example, during one call, I committed to finishing 2 chapters, and she promised to finish 3 modules of one of her e-courses. We were in a Peer-Mentoring stance, even though we hadn’t filled out the “paperwork” (the Contract in this book).
During the course of our discussions, she introduced me to Dennis K, in Athens, Greece, whose business specialty is LinkedIn Profile makeovers for members. I was interested in perhaps using his services to improve my Profile. In the meantime though, he and I talked via Skype several times and came up with the idea of writing an article together, using a combination of our expertise. It’s called “How to Create Influence on LinkedIn; Keywords and Beyond”.
We posted the link to my 2500 LinkedIn connections and to his 13,000, plus it’s been posted on LinkedIn Pulse and has generated a lot of buzz for us both. We are now brainstorming about a new project we can do together. He has not yet done the Profile Makeover for me, but we are now negotiating what resource or skill I can offer him so we can create a more structured Peer-Mentor contract with each other.
This process has been very informative because we have gotten to know each other a bit better. I learned that he is absolutely prompt for our calls, takes the initiative in our shared writing tasks, is fair, in fact generous, about taking credit, and keeps his commitments. These are all qualities I value in a Peer-Mentor, so when we get to that aspect, I believe we have a great start.
Once you have this conversation a few times, hopefully, your enthusiasm will be sparked. You may begin to see possibilities for connection in many circumstances and situations.
So, happy hunting! With the right attitude and commitment to your goal, you will soon find someone who is a perfect fit and a great success partner.