Figuring out how to approach a potential mentor can be tricky. You understand the value of a mentoring relationship and have identified the right person you’d like to work with. The next step is establishing a mentoring relationship with them. To do this, you’ll need to approach the potential mentor carefully and come equipped with the right information and mindset.
In order to achieve this, you’ll need to understand the mindset of the potential mentor and determine what they are interested in. Why should they share their knowledge and insights with you? How do you know they will be able to share valuable guidance in the first place?
To help you get started on your mentoring journey, here are five important things to keep in mind when learning how to approach a potential mentor for the first time.
The first thing you need to do when you approach a potential mentor is to be prepared with exactly what you want to get out of the mentoring relationship. This means having goals for your mentoring sessions, and understanding exactly what skills and areas you want to work on.
Having this clearly established will help you select the right mentor to approach. It will also help you meet your potential mentor with the right questions.
Your potential mentor is probably very busy, so it's important that you don’t waste their time by being too vague about your mentoring goals. Instead, approach them with an exact understanding of what you hope to achieve.
This also applies once you have set up meetings with your mentor. Come [prepared with the right questions, and make sure that you know what you want to gain from your mentoring sessions. This will help you and your potential mentor gain more value from the relationship.
Understand Your Mentor’s Strengths
Only approach a potential mentor whose skills and background relate to what you want to work on. This involves knowing what your potential mentor is great at and focusing on that area for your discussion.
Doing this will help with two things. First, it will make it easier for the potential mentor to converse with you and share their advice and insights. Second, it will help you gain more powerful insights, as you’re learning from a master in that area.
Keep it Short
Once you have established your goals and understand your potential mentor's strengths, target your conversation around these main points and don’t drag it out longer. When you approach a potential mentor, try to keep your conversation at around 30 minutes max. This gives you enough time to establish a relationship and gain some insights from them.
Follow Up With Your Strength
Once you have approached a potential mentor, your second goal should be to set up another meeting with them to start a relationship. One effective way of doing this is to ask them if you can come back and share what you did with the guidance they gave you.
Of course, when you do come back you will need to demonstrate your strengths, and skills, and show them what you can bring to the table. This is also when you should come prepared with questions and goals you want to work on with the mentoring relationship.
Remember that successful mentoring relationships work both ways. This means you should look for areas where you can offer value to the potential mentor. This will help both of you get more out of the mentoring sessions.
Keep an Open Mind
Figuring out how to approach a potential mentor can be intimidating. When you do, it's important to realise that not all relationships will work out. In some cases, the potential mentor you approach will simply not be a good fit. They might also point you in the direction of somebody else that they know, which could work out.
Always have an open mind, and be prepared for relationships not to work out. Instead of putting all your hope and energy into a single individual, consider relationships with other potential mentors. You never know who might be able to offer you the most valuable guidance.
The hardest part of mentoring relationships is often getting started. Knowing how to approach a potential mentor with the right mindset and questions will help you kick things off on a good path. Ultimately, this will result in helping you find a more meaningful mentor who shares more valuable insights that align with your goals.