A great mentor can definitely help your career. A mediocre one can cause your ambitions to flat line. When it comes to choosing a mentor, be as picky as you like. Never take the first offer. Or the second. Take it all in with a grain of salt. Mentors can give you guidance, introduce you to powerful people, and even help you get your ideal career.
Sadly, great mentoring opportunities are rare. Whether young or old. You usually have to reach out to build a valuable work relationship. However, you can’t just ask someone to mentor you. (You could, but it wouldn’t function well.)
How can you properly request a mentor? Some career experts were consulted, and their advice is below.
Select a Mentor
Before inviting someone to mentor you, make sure they fit. A prominent CEO may not be willing to take on the task. Unless you can motivate them or bribe them. Career adviser Mary Grace Gardner of The Young Professionals says they may wish to instruct you but don’t have time. A mentor two or three levels above you who doesn’t work with you is useful. If your work directly affects their mentor, it will be harder for them to provide objective, meaningful feedback.
Choose based on your career needs
Ask yourself how a mentor may help you and what you’ll achieve by initiating this type of relationship.
You may want a mentor to assist you in reaching your work objectives and planning your future. Maybe you need a specialist to help you with a problem. You may have several career, personal, and spiritual mentors.
It’s also important to make sure your potential mentor speaks your language.
You must know what you want from a mentor to choose one. Listening or brutal honesty? Do you want career advice or just one part? Asking someone who knows you both whether they think you may get along. This is the first step.
Where can you find this person? Maybe they’re part of your extended family. Cousins. Aunts. Uncles.
Roy Cohen, career strategist and author of The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide, recommends starting within your organization.
Mentors may already be selected and assigned. If so, research eligibility and other conditions Cohen suggests. The HR representative may still be a critical champion in creating and setting up an introduction if a program does not exist.
Join a niche business group to look for experienced members who may be willing to take you on. It’s great for networking and informal mentoring with more experienced workers.
Make sure you identify with this individual’s job path, objectives, and especially values regardless of who you choose, Waldon recommends. It’s time to contact your ideal mentor once you’ve identified them. If you don’t know the person well, this is even more necessary. Just say, ‘Will you be my mentor?’ right up front because it could be an overwhelming question for a person who already has a lot on their plate, say many HR experts.
Saying, ‘I sincerely value your work (or career trajectory, or whatever you admire) and was wondering if I might ask your advice on my own career is a solid start. If they agree, meet with them.
If all goes well, suggest a follow-up meeting.
‘I’d love to learn from you. Would you be willing to drink coffee with me once a quarter/every few months and chat?’ if you value their advice and they seem invested.
If you are familiar with your potential mentor and want to extend your mentee/mentor relationship, you can do so. Be clear about your expectations.
Prepare your expectations of a mentor
Mentors often complain that mentees don’t state their goals. Tell your mentor your expectations.
- 30 minutes every three months or an hour every month
- Phone or lunch meeting
Career expert Angela Copeland advises communicating your preferences upfront.
Giving a general summary of what your conversations will probably contain is also a wise idea.
To diverse people, the term “mentor” could represent different things. Will you, for instance, come to this individual with work-related issues? Will you consult them before making any employment changes? Are you going to seek out their counsel on training or other approaches to reach your target and act on it? Thus, when you ask someone to mentor you, you should explain what it means to you and what you desire from them.
Add, ‘I respect your work and would sincerely want to have you as my mentor.’
That would mean meeting with you every three months to discuss some of my difficult career decisions and ask for your guidance on how to continue.
How to Finish Anything in Six Minutes
Even if your mentor declines, be courteous.
It’s normal to be disappointed or furious if your mentor declines. Copeland advises considering that your mentor may face challenges you’re unaware of. They may have work issues. Or simply have started a quiet quitting strategy. Perhaps a relative is sick. Never contradict anyone over this. It’s a personal issue that’s very sensitive. It’s also often a lie, but don’t call them on it. Ever. Word will get out that you’re argumentative, and no one will want to mentor you.
Workplaces rarely provide personal details. On the other hand, there is often some gossip making the rounds that could point you in the right direction.
Copeland adds, ‘This is better than someone who says they’ll hang out but doesn’t.’
Be kind and appreciative.
They may tutor you if they return.
You should thank your mentor if they accept
If someone says ‘yes,’ Santopietro-Panel suggests saying thank you graciously and perhaps sending them a handwritten thank-you note. That is to say, before quickly booking your first session to begin the process.”
Don’t make your mentor regret choosing you by providing pricey presents or posting a lot on social media. Be passionate, professional, and relaxed.
Getting a mentor can help you reach your career goals.
‘A mentor may be helpful, whether counseling you on your career aspirations, connecting you with other professionals in your region, [or] being a supportive sounding board,’ Waldon says. ‘This relationship takes investment.’