Whether you are a college student looking for your first internship or a young professional just starting your career, having a mentor who is an expert in their field is beneficial in the long run.
Myriad of studies show that successful mentorships help mentees to grow and thrive in their field. Mentors get a sense of satisfaction when they pass on their expertise to the next generation, and mentees make a connection with a role model. But asking someone to be your mentor can be a tricky and awkward business. Unless you know the individual fairly well, simply asking “will you be my mentor?” may not score you any points.
Here are a few tips to help you craft “the ask” that lands you the perfect professional or personal mentorship.
At its heart, mentoring is about guiding someone through a situation in life. When you are asking someone to be your mentor, you’re essentially saying, “I need help, and I think your experience and wisdom in this area will give me valuable insight on how to move forward.”
Don’t be afraid to share your struggles, big and small, with a prospective mentor. Chances are, they have been in your shoes, and will appreciate your honesty in asking for assistance.
Do Your Research
As you approach someone to ask them to be your mentor, take the time to learn as much about this person as possible. Check out their LinkedIn profile and other social media channels, as well as articles or projects they have worked on.
During your conversation, reference aspects of their career or leadership style that you admire and would like to emulate. It shows your prospective mentor you have initiative and a desire to forge a genuine connection with them.
Highlight Common Interests and Backgrounds
During the course of your research into this person, you will likely find that you have similar interests or backgrounds. Use this to your advantage. Mentorships are most successful when the two individuals can build a genuine connection over common interests.
Moreover, a mentor who shares a common background with you can give you better advice if you ever run into a difficult situation at work. Like it or not, discrimination is still a prevalent issue in many workplaces, and having a knowledgeable mentor who may have encountered it themselves could save you time and energy.
For instance, a female mentor may give younger female mentee guidance on how to balance work-life responsibilities. An LGBTQ+ mentor can provide support to an LGBT mentee experiencing a less-than-welcoming work environment.
Some Takeaways About Asking Someone To Be Your Mentor
The above tips are only a few ways of asking someone to be your mentor. However, no matter what you do, don’t forget the importance of a personal touch. Feel free to email a prospective mentor and begin your relationship, but schedule an in-person appointment for coffee or a meal.
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