Chemistry. Compatibility. While these traits are crucial to a successful mentoring relationship, there’s so much more involved, most importantly — you. What do you want to learn? Who do you want to learn it from? Recruiting a mentor can seem like a daunting task, but being thorough and prepared when making the ask leads to success.

How to Prepare

Have a conversation with yourself:

  • Identify what it is you need to learn.
  • Think about what you need from a mentor.
  • Consider how much time you can contribute to a mentoring relationship. Look yourself in the mirror and honestly consider if you have the time, willingness and commitment to mentoring.
  • Think about your prior mentoring experiences and how you can actively contribute to the success of your relationship.

Ask yourself some important questions:

  • Am I sincerely interested in learning?
  • Am I willing to commit time to developing and maintaining a mentoring relationship?
  • Am I willing to be open and honest with myself and another person?
  • Can I participate without aversely affecting my other responsibilities?

Making the Ask

You can do all the preparation in the world, but if you aren’t able to communicate your needs and ask a potential mentor for their time and energy in an inviting and honest way, you may lose out on a great mentoring opportunity.

Make sure to clearly communicate:

  • What you want to learn.
  • Why you want to learn it.
  • Why you think this person is a good match for you.
  • What you need from the relationship.
  • What you are willing to contribute.

Make sure to present yourself as:

  • Competent
  • Committed
  • Compatible
  • Conscientious
  • Ready to Learn
  • Accountable

With the right preparation, the right communication and the right presentation, you’ll be able to set yourself up for success when asking a potential mentor for their help.

How have you sought out mentors? What worked and didn’t work for you?