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Asking Someone to Mentor You

08/17/2017, 2:30pm CDT
By Sam Callan, USA Fencing Senior Manager, Coaching Education

In my previous blog, I offered some tips on developing a plan for exactly what you want out of a mentor. Once that is completed, you need to find a mentor. Maybe you have identified someone already. If the person is someone you already have a relationship with, contact the person and ask for an hour of his/her time. You want to do “the ask” in person, not via email. If you know the person well enough already and feel confident that the person can help you and has aligned values, then go ahead and mention the reason for the meeting.

Come to that meeting prepared with exactly what you want help with and also an idea of how much time you think you will need. You should also tell the person why you want a mentor and why he/she would be a suitable mentor for you. Maybe it involves common experiences or interests that led you to choose that person as a mentor. Explain that you are looking for guidance, not a tutor. If the person seems uncomfortable with the idea, back off. You want a mentor who is committed. If the person seems hesitant, give the person some time to think about it.

The trickier situation is asking someone you do not know to be your mentor. Maybe the person is a referral or someone you have read about. In this case, email or call the person and give a brief introduction. 

When you reach out, ask for a 30-minute meeting, perhaps via skype, phone or maybe at an upcoming event you might both be attending. Do not tell the person you are interested in a mentoring relationship at this time. For one thing, you might meet the person and learn that he/she and you do not mesh. If that is the case, you can use the meeting as merely an introduction and a little information gathering. If you do feel a connection, then you can broach the topic of mentoring.

When the person agrees to mentor you, set up how you will connect. Tell the mentor what you prefer in terms of communication. You should take the initiative in terms of contact. While it is preferable to have a mentor who is near you, with today’s technology that is not completely necessary. Do you want regular phone calls? Emails? Or meetings in person? Do you need regular follow-up emails or texts from the mentor about your progress?

Developing a relationship with a mentor can, and should, be a fulfilling experience. If you have already been in a formal or informal mentoring relationship, take the time to thank your mentor if you have not done so. Let that person know how much he/she has meant to you and helped you.

The following resources were used in writing this blog:

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