Here’s a simple truth in life: People can easily give you money, clothes, food, etc. but time is certainly more precious. If you ask someone to buy you a gift, it’s likely they’ll do so – maybe not instantly, but certainly. But if you ask them to spend a day with you, they might have to think through it thoroughly. Well, I’m driving towards the point that time is an extremely valuable asset for everyone. One’s time is the highest gift they can offer.
And if you find someone who’s willing to invest their time and effort into your growth, be grateful for having them around. I always tell people that I’ve come this far because I’ve been standing on the shoulders of giants. I’ve had incredible friends, family members, & mentors who have relentlessly supported my journey of growth.
However, I’ve noticed that while it’s relatively easier for friends and family members to support your journey, it’s certainly more challenging to find a committed mentor to support you.
Many people barely muster the courage to seek mentorship. And for those who try, they approach it the wrong way. I frequently get requests from younger – and older – people seeking mentorship but sadly, nine on ten of them do it wrongly. I also did things wrong when I had just started seeking mentorship. But over the years, I have come to realize what works – and what doesn’t.
The Christian Bible says “ask and it will be given to you”. So asking is the first step, but the way you ask is, perhaps, more important.
1. You need to have made contact with the person.
You can’t just ask someone to be your mentor out of the blue. It’s important that you engage with them – virtually or in-person – for some time before making any requests. Your engagement with a potential mentor lays the foundation for every mentor-mentee relationship.
2. Be specific
There are many facets of life. You could get an academic mentor, a career mentor, a relationship mentor, etc. Clearly define what you need help with and tie it to why they’re the right person to help you. Vague requests always leave people confused. Be clear and concise.
3. Don’t take much of their time.
It’s very important for you to put in much effort on your end. Many people wouldn’t take up a task that would disrupt their schedule. Therefore, make sure they put in as minimal effort as possible while still delivering value to you. For example, be responsible for developing the meeting agenda and always report to them on assigned tasks before they reach out asking for a progress report.
4. Accept Rejections
From time to time, people get turned down or ignored – that’s okay. We simply cannot get everything we want in life. Also, remember that these potential mentors are humans; they might have a lot going on or are simply unable to take on these kinds of commitments. Respect their decision and follow from a distance.
In case you need help crafting a message or an email to send, I found a really good template here