How To Ask Someone To Be Your Mentor
Reuben O'Connell
6 minutes
July 31, 2023

Asking someone to be your mentor can have a profound, positive impact on your career development and well-being at work, yet many people feel daunted by the process of finding a mentor. 

That’s where Guider is here to help.

We’re constantly being told by TED Talks, life coaches, career advice blogs and entrepreneurs to find a mentor. Mentoring has received celebrity endorsements from the likes of Richard Branson, Sheryl Sandberg, Oprah Winfrey and many more.

In this guide, we will explain how to find a great mentor, how to establish a connection and ask someone to be your mentor, as well as maintaining the relationship going forward. Let’s begin!

Find a great mentor

Understand your goals and what you want to achieve

First thing’s first, why do you want a mentor?

Support and guidance is nice, but what do you actually want to improve or achieve? What personal development and career goals are you working towards?

Try and write down the answers to these questions before you even think about finding a mentor. This exercise in self-awareness will highlight the areas you want to work on, which will help when it comes to finding a person to help you get there.

Some of the reasons you’re looking for a mentor may include:

  • To get career direction
  • To learn from someone who has ‘been there and done it’
  • To get support in a specific area
  • To build your network
  • To get career support
  • To work towards a promotion

Whether it’s learning to manage people for the first time, or growing your confidence with public speaking, having a mentor to guide and advise you could have a considerable impact.

There are many different types of mentoring that are effective, so it’s important to establish what you’re looking for before jumping in.

Assess your current network

It’s tempting to ask a stranger to be your mentor, whether in a desire to reinvent yourself or start your relationship without any preconceptions. However, the challenge of getting a stranger to mentor you is far greater (and more daunting) than somebody who already knows you.

Start by thinking of people you know and admire. These people will already know your personality and will hopefully be more invested in your development.

Remember, when it comes to asking someone to be your mentor, your request is going to be received much more favourably if that person already knows and respects you.

Seek role models

Think about the behaviours and traits that you admire in people, and identify people who showcase those qualities. 

It’s also important to not get stuck searching for the ideal role model. If you have an image in mind of what your ideal mentor may be like, it’s best to not fixate on that image. It can be easy to get stuck waiting for a perfect person to come along, that in reality doesn’t exist.

A great mentor is someone that inspires you, sparks ideas and is genuinely invested in the relationship. Remember, you may have several mentors throughout your career, so one person doesn’t need to be a perfect fit for everything you’re looking for to be beneficial. You don’t want to miss out on a great mentor because they don’t fit the image you had in your head.

It’s vital to be open-minded, focus on what you want to learn, think about who you get a positive feel from when speaking with them, and the energy a potential mentor has.

Evaluate compatibility

It’s really important to find a mentor whose values align with your own, as well as shares similar interests to you, and has the desired expertise in the subject area you’d like to be involved with.

For example, if you’re looking to progress your career in marketing, it’s important to seek out a mentor who is involved in marketing.

Whilst sharing personal interests aren’t essential to a successful mentor-mentee relationship, this can be useful to building an initial relationship and building rapport with each other.

The most important thing is that your core values align with one another, so don’t be afraid to ask what they are and get to know the person on a deeper level.

Establish a connection

Building a connection with a potential mentor is a crucial step in asking someone to guide and support you on your journey.

Engage in networking

Attending industry events and utilising professional networking platforms is a great way to help find a mentor.

There are plenty of virtual and in-person networking events happening every day in your area, so sign up to the events which sound interesting to you, and you’ll be sure to find like-minded people there. 

These events offer a great opportunity for you to expand your network and begin to build relationships with people you wouldn’t otherwise meet.  Having that face-to-face contact with people is a great way to build initial trust, and have informal chats with people you think may be suitable in becoming a great mentor.

Seek common ground

Finding common ground with your potential mentor is a key part of the process.

It allows you to build a rapport with the person you’re interested in becoming your mentor, and helps build the initial connection between the pair of you. 

Finding shared interests and experiences helps to create a foundation to trust each other and further the mentor-mentee relationship.

Approach your mentor

How you make your approach is a crucial step that requires careful thought and a tactful approach.

Don’t ask someone outright

If you do have a stranger in mind who you’re desperate to be mentored by (maybe you saw them talk at a conference, or follow them on Twitter) don’t ask them to be your mentor straight away.

No matter how persuasive your outreach might be, this person is likely very busy and desirable, so why would they help you?

What you can do instead is start engaging with them and their work. Share and comment on their updates on social media, attend events they’ll be at, start insightful conversations with them, help solve their problems. It’s essentially like putting in the groundwork towards mentorship.

You can’t expect a stranger to want to help you, but you can be proactive in getting to know strangers and turning them into connections.

Have an informal chat first

So you’ve got a person in mind that you think will be able to help you achieve your goals and progress in your career. Somebody to introduce you to new ideas and ways of thinking, challenge you, and guide you in the right direction.

Bear in mind, you still don’t know at this point if they will be a good mentor. So you don’t want to ask them to be your mentor straight away, because you could get two sessions in and realise you don’t get along, or they’re not as knowledgeable as you thought.

Instead, ask them for a coffee or arrange a casual video call. Say you’d love to talk to them about a certain topic or their experience, and have some questions ready. This is your opportunity to figure out if they could be a good mentor for you, as well as impress them so that they’ll say yes when you actually ask them.

You want to leave this prospective meeting feeling inspired, excited, and potentially even better about yourself. 

If you didn’t feel a good connection, perhaps they’re not the right person to mentor you. Don’t be so set on finding a mentor that you invest in the wrong relationship.

Ask them to be your mentor

Now you’ve had an initial meeting with the person in mind, the only thing left to do is to ask them to become your mentor.

It’s the part that people find most daunting, but really it’s the easiest bit. Just reach out and ask them if they’d like to mentor you. Specify the regularity you’re looking for to set expectations, what goals you are working towards, and any challenges you’re facing which they could support you with.

Remember to explain how you believe they can help you – a bit of ego flattery goes a long way!

Hopefully, if your meeting went well, it should be a resounding yes. Generally, people like helping people.‍

Follow-up and Commitment

Following up from the initial meeting when you asked someone to become your mentor is important to show them you are committed to the process.

Here’s how you can make the best start to the new mentor-mentee relationship you have earned:

Express gratitude

Regardless of the response you get from asking the person to become your mentor, it’s important that you thank them for their time talking to you.

There could be numerous reasons they don’t want to commit to becoming your mentor, so try not to get disheartened or discouraged if they say no.

If they say yes, the same applies. Be sure to thank them and express your gratitude for them wanting to help you along your journey.

Be patient

When you get in touch with your mentor, don’t expect to get a response within minutes. They may be working in full-time employment, have a family, and have many commitments. Be patient and wait for them to get back to you.

However, it is important to take the lead and ensure that you have meetings in place with your mentor to get the most out of the arrangement.

Don’t always wait for your mentor to initiate meetings or targets. It’s important to take the reins if you want to make sure you achieve the goals you set out in the very beginning.

Demonstrate commitment

A good mentoring relationship takes dedication and effort from both parties. If you’ve managed to find a good mentor, make sure you put in the time to make it work!

There are many ways that you can be a great mentee, so it’s important to meet your end of the bargain and put in the work and effort to have a successful experience.

Sharing the goals you set at the beginning of the process with your mentor is vital for them to understand what you’re looking for. Sharing how you’re progressing with your goals will show your mentor that you care and that you’re taking the mentorship seriously.

📖 Find out more about how to be a good mentee in our guide📖

How Guider can help

Guider AI is an award-winning mentoring platform that provides support, reporting and ongoing optimisation to develop people and businesses through mentoring.

If you’d like to find out more information about the help and support we have available, then feel free to get in touch with our team or book a demo today.

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