This paper is the last of my three articles on this super important subject… How to get a mentor. In my first and second articles I looked at: Why should we have a mentor? What is a mentor? Who makes a good mentor? How do you approach mentors? What do you want from a mentor? And the importance of being prepared when you get on a phone or in a meeting with your mentor. This time, I will focus on mentor etiquette… the “Do’s and Don’ts” that go along with having a mentor.
Firstly, here are a few of the don’ts to keep in mind. Don’t put them on the spot by asking them to hire you, audition you, or read your screenplay. If they request it, that’s fine. But don’t put them on the spot by asking.
Don’t have them be the one who works to generate the conversation. It’s your job to be totally ready. And don’t ever use their name without permission. Just because they might mention a show you would be great for and they mention that they know someone associated with that show, if you decide to get in touch with that person, and you want to use your mentor’s name, it is imperative that you get their permission to do so. Remember, you are going to them for their wisdom, not their rolodex.
Here are a few items to remember as far as the do’s are concerned. Always be prepared, really prepared, with your list questions as well as information on them and their company. Make sure you’ve done your homework. Make good use of their time. Keep your word. Call when you said you’d call. Show up at the meeting on time. Really respect their time and acknowledge them and thank them for their time and wisdom.
Remember that it’s a business relationship. So respect the term of your arrangement. If you’ve agreed to have three meetings or phone calls over a month long period and you decide you want to continue the relationship then get permission to do so.
When I was shooting my YouTube series for my YouTube channel on this subject of getting a mentor, I interviewed film and video game producer, Ruby Lopez. Ruby has been a volunteer at Women in Film for many years and their mentor program is a year long, so they are very strict about mentor etiquette.
“Having a mentor is not a time for you to look for a job or be an intern” she says. “It’s more about gaining knowledge. Also, remember that their time is valuable so if you say you’re going to meet them at certain time, do that. If it’s a ten minute phone call or a half hour meeting, keep to your promise and don’t go overboard.” She tells us that “this is not about you pushing yourself on them. If the relationship is meant to evolve, it will. Sometimes all you need from a specific mentor is the knowledge they give so you know how to move forward in your career.”
Ruby feels that “it’s a perfect time to explore different people, different areas that you’re interested in and to find out where you’re missing your knowledge. So when you’re meeting with them, know what you want to talk to them about and what to address.”
One of the do’s that I really really want to spotlight is acknowledgment. It is so so so important that you acknowledge your mentor each and every time. As I’ve mentioned in my other MTT articles and videos, acknowledgement is sadly missing in our industry. When MTT’s acting coach, Diane Christensen, joined me for my YouTube series she shared about the importance of giving and receiving acknowledgement. “I know that having a mentor in Hollywood is special,” she says “since they are the busiest people of all and they are so busy that they don’t even know they need acknowledgement. So for them to receive it and have that gift given to them is so special and such a truly needed moment in their lives. What better reason to mentor than to receive that acknowledgment and to have people grateful for it.”
That’s brilliant advice from both Ruby and Diane. They are giving you gold here, so be sure to use it. And remember, we all should have mentors in our lives and careers. As I mentioned in my first article, everyone loves and wants to contribute and there are thousands of people in our industry who have many years of experience and would be honored to share their knowledge and expertise with you. So take the information in all three articles and of course watch my YouTube channel and the Master Talent Teachers video series on this subject, and go out and get yourself a mentor or two. I promise it will be well worth it.