How to Ask Someone to Be Your Mentor

We all know how valuable a mentor can be. They can change your career, open up new perspectives, and help you reach the next level. But many people never take advantage of the benefits of a mentor, even though they really want one, for the simple reason that they don’t know how to ask.

If you’re considering a mentor or working up your nerve to ask, here are some tips that can help:

Start by thinking it through. Before you start selecting a prospective mentor, give some thought to what you want to accomplish and what kind of help you can use.

Find a candidate. Identify a mentor who can help you with what you want to achieve. The ideal candidate is someone who has done something similar themselves, who has the expertise and knowledge you need. Think of the people you already know, and talk to colleagues who may be able to connect you with a wider network of candidates. As you think about possible mentors, consider their values and their style of leadership and communication to make sure they’re compatible with yours. And keep your options realistic: the CEO of a large corporation may be the person who feels like the best fit, but it’s not likely that they have time to devote to mentorship.

Make the ask. Once you’ve identified the best candidate, it’s time to approach them. Don’t just walk up to someone and ask, “Will you be my mentor?” It might work, but it’s awkward and not the best path to a yes. Instead, try this technique, which has always worked for me: Say, “I really admire [something that stands out to you about their work] and was wondering if I could ask for your advice and guidance from time to time as a mentor as I [what you want to accomplish].

Express gratitude. Once you have a response, whether it’s yes or no, express gratitude for their time and effort. You never know why they might be saying yes, and you can never judge the reasons why they may have said no. Whatever their answer and their reasons, a gracious response from you will build goodwill.

Set up expectations. If the person does say yes, follow up to work through the details. Be sure that you and your mentor have a clear understanding of exactly what you want from the relationship, how much time it will take, and how often you will meet.

Lead from within: A mentor can be immensely helpful. It’s important to find the right person and, once you do, to get the relationship off to a good start by asking in the right way.

 


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After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.

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Lolly Daskal is one of the most sought-after executive leadership coaches in the world. Her extensive cross-cultural expertise spans 14 countries, six languages and hundreds of companies. As founder and CEO of Lead From Within, her proprietary leadership program is engineered to be a catalyst for leaders who want to enhance performance and make a meaningful difference in their companies, their lives, and the world.

Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR, Inc.com, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.

12 Responses to “How to Ask Someone to Be Your Mentor”

  1. Gabriel Cassaro

    25. Jun, 2019

    Hi Lolly, great piece on mentorship. The importance of mentors in corporate America should not be understated. Your tips on how to approach a potential mentor are spot on. I also concur with your advice on setting the correct exceptions for the relationship. I would add that, it is the responsibility of the individual being mentored to drive the relationship. Mentors are often busy individuals; hence the mentee should be intentional about developing the relationship.

    Best,
    Gabe

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      03. Jul, 2019

      Gabriel, Great addition of thought…. a when seeking a mentor the mentee must drive the relationship, respectfully, genuinely, and authentically.

      Reply to this comment
  2. Amber Ogle

    26. Jun, 2019

    What a fantastic read! I have always felt somewhat inadequate because I have never had a mentor. I pride myself on forging my own path but have felt insecure at times that nobody has taken that type of interest in me to be my mentor. I realize that it has been in my hands all along. It never occurred to me to ask. I will be rectifying that immediately. Thank you!

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      02. Jul, 2019

      Amber
      Let me know how it goes when you ask. Most people would be flattered.

      Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      03. Jul, 2019

      Amber

      You must be a very strong woman, who does most things on her own, but it is not a weakness to ask for help, guidance and support, it shows a real sign of leadership. Good luck in finding a mentor who is worthy of your strength and fortitude.

      Reply to this comment
  3. Keshab Simkhada

    26. Jun, 2019

    Great post, Lolly. Agreed that most of wish to have a CEO as our mentor but finding a perfect match between mentor and mentee is the key. Regards, Keshab.

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      03. Jul, 2019

      Keshab

      The best way to find a mentor is find someone who has done what you want to do, and their values align with yours

      Reply to this comment
  4. Vidhya vidhu

    08. Jul, 2019

    Great post by the way, many people find it difficult to ask someone to be their mentor. What if they say no? and other types of questions like this. Myself as started to do mentoring,

    Reply to this comment
  5. Anesu Masvaure

    10. Jul, 2019

    hi Lolly Daskal
    Thank you for clearing stating the I found them very helpful especially this part:
    As you think about possible mentors, consider their values and their style of leadership and communication to make sure they’re compatible with yours. And keep your options realistic: the CEO of a large corporation may be the person who feels like the best fit, but it’s not likely that they have time to devote to mentorship.

    Reply to this comment
  6. Md Munir Hossain

    28. Sep, 2019

    Hi Lolly It Is a Fantasting and Great post. I am so surprised to read this post But I do not Have Any Mentor. Without Mentor I have Started My Journey But Mentor Is the Pillers For Building The Smartist Leader.I Am So Much.Gratitude you.Thanks.

    Reply to this comment
  7. Md Munir Hossain

    28. Sep, 2019

    This is nice post. Mentor is a pillers of the leadership coach. Without Mentor I am driving my organization but Mentor is very very significant to Build up the leadership coach. Thank you very much for giving wisedom and intelligence.

    Reply to this comment

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