We’re all familiar with the old adage, “If you want to become successful, find a successful person and do what they do.” That’s sage advice. I encourage everyone to have a mentor, a coach, or someone they can learn from on their journey to greater success in life. A mentor can save you time and trouble. He or she can save you from making many mistakes they’ve made. However, most people don’t understand the process of procuring a mentor. It isn’t as easy as it may sound. Furthermore, it all begins with seeing mentorship from a mentor’s perspective.

I routinely receive calls from people asking if I will mentor them. I can immediately see that most of them don’t understand the role of a mentor, or the mentor/mentee relationship. Here are some practical suggestions regarding this most important aspect of your success.

1. Identify the right mentor for you.

Identify someone you’d like to learn from–the right mentor for you. I don’t necessarily mean someone who has a lot of money, drives a nice car, or lives in a big house. That person may or may not qualify as a good mentor for you. You should look for someone who knows something, or has done something that you want to know or that you want to be able to do.

It doesn’t matter that your prospective mentor is rich. He or she got rich in ways and in using skills that you’d never be able to duplicate.

For example, it would do me no good to select the internationally known rock star, Bono, to be my mentor. I can carry a tune all right, but I seem to tear it up trying to get it out. Bottom line: I’m no singer. Bono could give me all the tips in the world about becoming a rock star, but I’m never going to be a rock star no matter how much time he spends with me.

Ask yourself; who’s a knowledgeable expert doing what I want to do who would be kind enough to share what they have with me?

2. Do your due diligence.

Research your prospective mentor thoroughly. How? The easiest way today is via the Internet. You can learn a lot about almost any successful person today using Internet search engines. Learn as much as you can about the person. How do they think? What sort of background and experience does the person possess? This is important, because you must persuade him or her to become your mentor.

Suppose you were to call Bill Gates and say, “Hey, Bill. Would you be my mentor?” It’s fair to say that you aren’t going to get very far. For one thing, Bill Gates is a busy man. Why would he trade his time with his family to spend it mentoring someone he hardly knows?

When someone asks, “Mr. Bartmann, would you be my mentor?” frankly, the first thing that comes to my mind is, why would I want to do that? What would be a compelling reason? What would be my incentive?

I suggest that if you want a mentor, you discover the answer to that question before you place the call. There is an answer. And, the answer will differ from person to person. What could you say that would persuade him or her to say, “Yes, I’ll gladly mentor you.” You must do due diligence, put yourself in your potential mentor’s place, and get intimately acquainted with him or her to the point that you know what will motivate them to do so. After all, you must “sell” them on the idea. You must propose a relationship that makes sense to them, and that doesn’t just benefit you.

So, why would someone mentor you? What makes you stand out from the other 300 million people in the United States, or the 8 million people in Canada? Perhaps you share an affinity with him or her. Maybe you both belong to the same organizations. It could be that you both serve on the same boards or support the same charities. There must be a good reason for a mentor to want to spend time with you.

Once you’ve selected a potential mentor, and have researched him or her thoroughly enough to know the reasons they might want to mentor you, then…

3. Determine your specific request.

If you were to call me and ask, “Bill, will you be my mentor?” I don’t know what that means to you. Suppose instead, you called and said, “Bill, I want you to be my mentor; I want 10 minutes a month with you. And, if you’ll spend 10 minutes a month mentoring me, I promise you that I will in turn spend 10 minutes a month mentoring someone else in the future.”

To me, that would be a pretty persuasive presentation because I’m on a mission to help people. I wouldn’t do it because you were willing to pay me money; nor would I do it simply to help you become rich. That doesn’t move me. There are two important keys at work here. One is that you discover what motivates your prospective mentor. What are his or her interests and goals?

The second is that you quantify your request. In this case, you are asking me for 10 minutes a month. You’re not going to be calling me every day, interrupting my life, and taking up my time with my wife. You are only asking for 10 minutes a month. And, assuming I had it, I’d likely accede to your request.

We agree. Ten minutes a month. But if we like each other and enjoy our time together, it would likely go up to 15 minutes the third month; before long it would be 20. In time, you’d likely be calling me twice a month. And a year from now, we’d be buddies! That’s the way it works. Healthy, productive relationships start small and grow.

Now go find your mentor! And don’t forget to “pay it forward”!

About the Author:

Bill Bartmann is the “Billionaire Business Coach,” and is the only self-made billionaire who has devoted his life exclusively to teaching others. Bill is the leading authority on entrepreneurship in America, and has created seven successful businesses in seven different industries, including a $3.5 billion, 3900-employee international company that he started from his kitchen table with a $13,000 loan. He has been named National Entrepreneur Of the Year by NASDAQ, USA Today, Merrill Lynch and the Kauffman Foundation. His companies have been named by Inc. Magazine as one of the 500 Fastest Growing Companies in America – four years in a row. He has been awarded a permanent place in the Smithsonian Institute’s Museum of American History, and awarded the American Academy of Achievement’s Golden Plate Award as one of the Outstanding Achievers of the 21st Century.

Millions of people have seen Bill on ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX News, CNN and CNBC. Bill’s expertise has been featured on Sheppard Smith, Neil Cavuto and Donny Deutsch. He has been profiled in Forbes, Fortune, Inc., Bloomberg, Business Week, New Yorker, People, Wall Street Journal, U.S. News & World Report and USA Today.