By Akhil Sachdev
What if you had a bid mentor on speed dial that you could call up when you are facing a challenge or problem?
Imagine having your power team of mentors that you could reach out to at any time and tap into their wisdom on-demand.
How good would that feel? Let’s be clear it may not be a response as fast as dialling 999. But I’m sure you will agree that it is better than trying to figure out how to solve your bid challenges by typing it into Google or watching a YouTube video.
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, this appalling virus has ripped up the bid playbook, upending our working lives.
For the vast majority of us, there has been a dramatic change in our daily working bid life which has led to change in behaviours, habits and routine.
In these unprecedented times, we are experiencing a rollercoaster of emotions of stress, anxiety, frustration, sadness and depression.
Understandably much of these negative emotions have been triggered by the questions that we constantly ask ourselves.
What will happen if I lose my job? Will I eventually be made redundant? Will the furlough be extended? Should I consider a career change? How will I support my family? What is the best way to juggle working from home and homeschooling my children? How do I lead my bid team during this crisis?
Nothing is clear at the moment, and there is a deep sense of panic, worry, nervousness about the unknown and uncertainty about the future.
Right now, you may be overwhelmed and cannot see the wood from the trees. Or perhaps you feel like you have fallen from the edge of a cliff and spinning in free fall.
Do you feel that you have everything under control? What actions are you taking to remove the confusion and bring clarity and direction back into your bidding?
While everything may sound negative, I encourage you to think positively and ask yourself how can I use this downtime to improve my bidding when things return to normal. No doubt you will take stock and spend quality time on getting your house in order focusing on process improvement, pre-written content, bid library and capture plans.
But how much time will you spend focusing on your personal development? Now more than ever, you can use this time to pause and reflect and look at ways of continuous improvement, rebranding and reinventing yourself.
Today is the perfect time to find and connect with a bid mentor to support and guide you on your bid journey plus accelerate your bid career trajectory.
So why do I say that? Well, all the suffering, pain and heartache in this precarious and uncertain situation has undoubtedly brought the best in people. And there is now a true spirit of humility, kindness, generosity and compassion. With life on pause, people now generally have more time to take a call or respond to an email from someone asking for help during this difficult time.
Here are some of the myths that stop us from getting a mentor. I have to pay a fortune to get a mentor. No mentor can support me in my bid career. I cannot find a mentor on LinkedIn.
Let me debunk all those myths and tell you that all the above are untrue.
The bottom line is that you need to have the courage to ask. Otherwise, you never know whether you are missing out on a potential relationship with a mentor.
Finding your Bid Mentor
Before you begin finding a mentor, you need to get into the right mindset and have a strategy. Otherwise, you will struggle to connect with the right mentor.
The truth of the matter is that once you are proactive in your search, you will be overwhelmed with the myriad of interesting and exciting opportunities.
Every day, I’m inundated with emails inviting me to Zoom webinars which all have some element of mentoring support as one of their services. In reality, you are literally spoilt for choice. However, you will be questioning whether it is the right mentor and more importantly, whether you should be investing your time, effort and money on a particular program.
In this time of disruption and turbulence in our lives, we might not reason, and our choices and decisions will ultimately be emotionally driven.
You see a mentor will give you choices. In the end, it is the decisions you make that could radically alter the outlook to your career and life.
Interestingly the most successful people in bidding have mentors that have provided guidance, strategies and tactics to boost performance, avoid the pitfalls/mistakes and elevate their career to the next level.
When finding a mentor, you need to be truly authentic and share your vulnerability and vision so that the right mentor will be attracted to support you.
In every business presentation, I have attended two things are guaranteed to crop up surround yourself around great people and get a mentor.
Of course, the challenge is how do you go about finding a mentor in the current landscape.
Thinking outside the box will help you get creative in the way you search for your mentor.
Never be afraid of making cold calls or emails. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. In case you do not get a reply back, don’t worry. Be persistent and resilient, and I can assure you that sooner rather than later, you will connect with a suitable mentor.
Here are some suggestions in no particular order that you may want to consider:
Connect with Influencers on LinkedIn. They may be able to suggest a mentor from within their vast network.
Connect with the organisers of the webinars. Those that just provide free information are probably more willing to share insights into their mentor community versus those whose objective is to sell you a product or service.
Inside your LinkedIn network, there is already someone you probably know that frequently provides you with guidance. Guess what these people like you and want to help you. The trouble is because they operate on the periphery, you are oblivious to the fact that they have got your back. You have not officially recognised them as your mentors. I call these your ghost mentors. Sounds familiar?
Contact a second or third-degree connection on LinkedIn and start a conversation. Who knows it may lead to you finding your mentor.
Check out the APMP Mentoring Scheme. You need to complete an application which will assess and align you to an appropriate mentor.
By regularly commenting on targeted people’s post on LinkedIn, it may open a gateway to a potential mentor.
Send a broadcast message to your whole network on LinkedIn and tell them you are actively seeking a mentor.
There may be someone in your existing LinkedIn network who could recommend, refer or introduce you to a mentor that they may already know.
Chat with people in LinkedIn bid community groups from which you may come in contact with a mentor.
Comment, follow or direct message bid professionals/organisations on Twitter and start a conversation that could again lead to a mentor recommendation.
When you subscribe to a business training program or join an association, you will have the opportunity to access a range of mentors.
Within your alumni network, there will be an opportunity to connect with potential mentors that like, know and trust you.
Unfortunately due to the pandemic, it is impossible to connect with mentors and network face to face right now. That is why I have only highlighted the online strategies above. Bear in mind that you do not have to limit yourself to the UK. If there is no suitable mentor in the UK, then cast your net worldwide and communicate with international mentors by phone or better still a Zoom or Skype call. There are 7.8 billion people on the planet you should have no excuses of finding the right mentor that will help you be more, do more, achieve more and become the best version of yourself.
Engaging with your Bid Mentor
Crucially you must make a concerted effort to engage with the right mentor. Generally speaking, I believe this should be a long term relationship as opposed to something that is short term to gain maximum benefit.
One thing to mention is that for this relationship to succeed and flourish, you need to have a social connection and develop a professional friendship. For this, to work, you need to have an authentic, open, positive and transparent relationship where there are no superficial barriers and a deep sense of trust and respect.
In my view, the right mentor is someone who is aligned with your vision and values. They simply want to serve and help you achieve your goals without any expectations. Also, they are genuinely interested in your growth and development, care for your well-being, empathise with your challenges and will do whatever it takes to support you to succeed in your objectives. Above all, they are the perfect sounding board for you to share your problems and give you enough space for reflection, learning and enlightenment to happen.
The right mentor will fuel you with positive energy. Act as your GPS to help you navigate the complex bid landscape. Remove the negative self-talk and limiting beliefs that have prevented you from taking massive action.
Having powerful conversations with your mentor will spark new ideas and change your perspective and thinking on bidding. Eventually, the mentor will remove the darkness and bring clarity and direction so that you have a clear path to move forward. Above all, the mentor will help you turn this dreadful crisis into a new opportunity that initially would not have crossed your mind.
In the current climate where there is so much grief, negativity, doom and gloom you must find the catalyst that will boost your motivation, morale, keep your spirits high, think optimistically and set you up for a positive future.
Indeed that catalyst is your bid mentor. Finding your bid mentor during this pandemic will be the best gift you can give yourself. Because once you have found your bid mentor, they will hold your hands and make you accountable. And over time they will help you discover and unlock your greatest gift, i.e. bid superpower that will transform your bidding going forward.
Perhaps the best thing about working closely with your mentor is that you will begin to model their approach, and as a result, you will invariably change the way you think and action bid tasks. Besides the mentor will help you avoid the mistakes, hurdles and headaches that you will confront along your bid journey. More importantly, you will have a clear bid roadmap on how to reset, recalibrate and restart post lockdown.
Trust me once this crisis is over, you will bounce back and emerge stronger. Finally, you will be more confident and upbeat by the fact that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Would you like to unlock your potential during the lockdown? What one thing will you do now to search for your bid mentor?
Remember, a bid mentor will always power up your bidding.
Best of luck in your search!