At Virgin Unite, we believe in paying it forward and lifelong learning. This series will discuss all things mentoring before our October 7th Google Hangout, featuring Dermalogica founder Jane Wurwand and Virgin Galactic Future Astronaut, Tim Nash.
Have you decided that you want a mentor, and have someone in mind for the job? Great! Asking someone to be your mentor is a bit like asking someone out – you’ve got to rehearse how to phrase it and play it cool. Here are some top tips for making that all important ask.
1. Get in Touch
This is obviously much easier if you already know the person, but if you don’t then it’s really important to get this right. As mentioned in our previous blog, the first step should always be to see if you have any contacts in common, so that you have a warm lead. If you need to go in cold, try and get hold of their direct email address or add them on LinkedIn first so that you can send them a direct message. A cold message should always be short, sweet and to the point – and friendly of course! A word of warning, don’t just hit ‘invite’ on LinkedIn without a message, it’s rarely successful.
2. The Initial Meeting
Always ask a potential mentor for a meeting or phone call before making the big mentoring ask. You don’t ask someone to be your girlfriend or boyfriend before you have even met up with them and the same goes for mentoring relationships. You don’t want to scare them off.
3. Get to Know Them
Spend the first meeting getting to know your potential future mentor and ask them about their experience, likes and dislikes. Then ask yourself the questions: ‘Could this person really help? Do we click? Do I think that they would put my best interests at heart?’
4. Make the Ask
If you come away from the meeting feeling like this person could help you to achieve your goals, it’s time to make the ask. Be clear on what you are asking them for in terms of time commitment, and what you are looking to get out of the relationship. Be flexible and understand that they might be very busy and are likely to have a lot of other commitments. Remember to be gracious if the answer is ‘no’. If they can’t commit at that time then they are actually doing you a big favour by saying so at the outset. Remember, this person could still be an important part of your network in the future.