You’ve identified a potential mentor — someone you think could help advance your career, provide encouragement and advocate for you.
Now, it’s time to form that relationship. But how do you ask someone to be your mentor?
According to Yale University, the first step is simple: Schedule a conversation by sending an email asking the person if he or she can meet with you in person or via Zoom.
That sounds easy enough, but might seem intimidating.
“I know personally every time that I’ve asked someone (to be a mentor), I have been scared to death,” Lauren Harley, Assistant Director of Education and Certification at MCI-USA, said in a recent SURGE Connect session. “There’s that fear that they’re going to say no, or you think you’re going to take up a lot of their time — that it’s a huge time commitment. But honestly, every time I’ve asked someone they’ve been flattered, and it’s really been an amazing experience working with different people in different areas of expertise that you wouldn’t any other time.”
Once your potential mentor agrees to a meeting, be prepared to clearly describe what you want to get out of the relationship. Are you trying to move up in your current company? Apply to a new position? Think about this before the meeting so you can clearly articulate what you have in mind.
It’s also important to respect their time, and show you’re willing to do the necessary work on your end to follow through. According to Yale, “there’s nothing more frustrating than mentoring someone who doesn’t do the work necessary to take advantage of advice, so you want to make it clear to your potential mentor that you’re ready to commit the time, energy and effort to make the most of their counsel and time.”