Once you’ve prepared -and by this we mean establish your criteria and find potential mentors – it is time act. Choose the right time and place and “pop the question.”
Be specific about what you want to learn, why you want to learn it, and why from that potential mentor. Here’s an example from our book, The Mentee’s Guide: Making Mentoring Work for You:
“Thanks for joining me for lunch. I really appreciate the time. Ever since the Ops Review meeting, I have been thinking about the story you told us about your career journey. It really struck a cord with me because it is my hope to one day to be doing those very same kinds of things. I know that you are very busy. I am wondering, however, if you could find some time to meet with me on a regular basis for mentoring. I’d like to take advantage of the company mentoring program. I want to figure out how to find a similar path that would work for me, get to know more about the field, and more about the opportunities and potential in it. I could learn a lot from hearing about your struggles – especially being a woman in this male-dominated field. I want to hear about what you did to overcome the obstacles that you faced because I really want to figure out where I can make my mark. I have given a lot of thought to where my strengths and weaknesses are and I’m interested in exploring what I can do to make changes. Maybe we could figure out a schedule that works for you, meet once a month and maybe talk or email in between. I’ve checked it out with my manager and he would support the time. What do you think?”
Nick, although very stressed, is crystal clear about his needs.
After a few moments to catch up and connect, Nick got right to the point with his potential mentor. “John, I am struggling with my CEO, Mike. He can’t seem to stop micromanaging, and I spend half my day smoothing ruffled feathers. I am at my wits end. I’ve met with him and tried to work through the situation but we aren’t getting anywhere. I really need some help and if you are open to it, I’d like your guidance. I think you’d be the perfect mentor for me at this time. First, you’re a CEO and you have the perspective I need. Plus, from our conversations, I can see you have a positive relationship with your own OPs people. I don’t want to take too much of your time. Perhaps we could get together for lunch once a month and I could pick your brain and bounce some ideas off you.
To get the full story on Nick, see Leadership in Action.
Popping the question is easy if you have done your homework!