Finding the right mentor can be a challenge, but it's worth the effort. A mentor can provide invaluable guidance, advice, and direction to help you reach your goals. To start the conversation, research the mentor's work and mention what you like about it. Respect their time and be willing to do the necessary work and follow-up.
When you've found the right person, use these tips to build a successful relationship. When approaching a potential mentor, start with what you appreciate about their work. This shows that you have a thoughtful approach. It's also important to remember that the relationship doesn't have to be formal or intense. This will help a busy mentor stay on track and know what to focus on with you.
Schedule an initial conversation.
Clearly describe the guidance you are looking for (The Ask). Confirm that you are willing to do the necessary work and follow-up. Acknowledge and respect the person's time. Once you've established a good mentoring relationship, it's okay to reach out once a month or two for the first year. As time goes on, it's okay to contact your mentor even once a quarter.
Approach your mentor as if they were a potential friend; your relationship will develop over time. Mentors should be people other than your boss, and they should provide you with information on how to move forward and support your overall goals. Most people who are in a position to mentor are busy, so don't be alarmed if they take a few days to respond. To ease some of the pressure and fear, remember that the people you admire have probably had several mentors throughout their lives who have helped them get to where they are today, and they would take the opportunity to help others in the same way.
Set achievable goals. If you mention your specific, achievable goals early on in the relationship, your mentor can help you stay on track at each meeting. Before each meeting, send your mentor an agenda, an article you might want to read with him, a new project that you've worked on and that you want to receive feedback on, or indicate that you're trying to request a promotion or a raise. While your mentor may be happy to give you advice, it's essential that you think of ways to show appreciation and be available to him.
When I graduated, I started an internship in IT where I met a mentor who, six years later, helped me get a job in technology. A first meeting over coffee or a short video call involves little commitment for your target mentor and will give you the opportunity to understand them better, evaluate your chemistry and see if they are the right one for you. Building a successful mentoring relationship takes time and effort. It's important to remember that mentors are not there just to give advice; they are also there to provide support and guidance. Be sure to thank them for their time and effort. Showing appreciation is key in any relationship.