How to Ask Someone to Be Your Mentor

Nov 26, 2023

a young man and his older mentor

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If you’re wondering how to ask someone to be your mentor, you’re in the right place. Seeking guidance from a seasoned professional, a key figure in your life or community, can be challenging. After all, it’s a big ask, and you may have reservations about approaching someone to spend time helping you reach your goals.

Here are some tips on how to ask someone to be your mentor and, possibly, a lifelong friend.

Get to Know Your Mentor

Knowing how to ask someone to be your mentor starts with learning more about them. If they’re someone you’ve known for a long time, you already have a headstart in the process. However, it’s always a good idea to learn more about them regardless of your current relationship.

Mentors will guide you through difficult situations, share in your joys and celebrate your successes. Mentorship is beneficial for both parties involved, no matter the setup. You need to know as much about them as possible to get the best out of your relationship.

Converse with them as much as you can. Get into things that interest them. Build a connection on a deeper level. Only by discovering who they truly are and what they care about will you understand what your future relationship will turn out to be.

This step will also allow you to get a better read on them and, hopefully, earn their trust. If you have a strong bond beforehand, asking someone to be your mentor is easier. Regardless of their answer, you’ll have a meaningful relationship as close friends.

Two men talking in the field

Set a Schedule

Setting a schedule is one way to show your commitment to your mentor-mentee arrangement. A mentor will dedicate their time to giving you sound advice on life, career and everything else. Be sure to volunteer enough time to soak up their wisdom.

A solid schedule will show your mentor how serious you are in improving yourself. If you’ve taken the time to research your mentor, you’d know just how busy they can be. A schedule will help you work around their commitments to make your mentorship work.

Value their time as much as you value yours. Create a plan that works for both of you, but prioritize their schedule above all. They’ll be giving a significant chunk of their time to accommodate you. Make it worth their while.

Two men fishing

Be Clear With Your Goals

List down the things you want to learn from your mentor. Let them know what you want from your mentor-mentee relationship so they know what to expect. It can be challenging to navigate this step of the process, but it’s essential to be honest with them from the beginning.

A good mentor will recognize your sincere desire to become better and they’ll be committed to your agreement once they see just how dedicated you are. If you give them clear expectations and goals and show them your value as a mentee, things will go smoother as you progress.

If you want to improve at work, tell your mentor outright so they know how to guide you up the corporate ladder. If you wish to build better habits and relate to people better, let your mentor know so they can share stories from their experiences as a jumping-off point.

Set up SMART Goals and run them by your mentor. This will be helpful for both you and your potential mentor as you get to identify realistic, achievable goals during your mentorship. You can brainstorm together to come up with valuable strategies to reach all listed goals within the set time frames.

Commit to Your Plans

Remember you’re asking someone to spend considerable time to help you improve. It will take them away from work, leisure, personal commitments and many other things. The best way to repay them is to ensure you’re committed to your goals.

Plan how you will spend the precious time they’re willing to set aside to help you achieve your goals. Make every effort to follow through with your promises to yourself and commitments to your mentor. Once they see how sincere you are in holding your end of the deal, they’ll happily give you the guidance you seek.

Mentorship brings the best out of you and your potential mentor. A Deloitte survey found that 80% of people who had a mentor felt more motivated and engaged in their work. You’ll discover new things about one another and have breakthrough conversations about careers, life decisions and the skills needed to succeed.

Reach Out

Learning more about your mentor is the first step in this process for a good reason. If you get to know them beforehand, you’ll think of the perfect way to reach out to them. Older generations are more formal and are likelier to respond to phone calls, letters or personal visits. Give them a firm handshake and maintain good eye contact to show them you’re serious about your request.

An email will be acceptable if your mentor is around your age or has a busy schedule. Tech-savvy people will always find value in a well-written email. Explain yourself in a concise but impactful way. Let them know why you chose them to be your potential mentor. If you’ve gone to great lengths to know them, they’ll see it as a sincere compliment rather than an attempt at flattery.

Bonus tip: Manage your expectations when waiting for their response. Highly-successful people have a lot on their plate, so be mindful of how you follow up on your request. Contact them via calls or email if that works for your relationship, but be sure to time your messages well.

There are better ways to get them to say ‘yes’ than hounding your potential mentor. Give them enough time to consider your proposition. Be diligent enough to remind them, but be courteous enough to know when you’re being impatient or pushing too far.

Always Say Thank You

Show your appreciation by sending them a ‘Thank you’ note regardless of their answer. Be mature enough to understand if they cannot commit to a mentorship. Move on to other candidates on your list, but thank them before you do.

It’s easy to feel hurt when things don’t go your way, especially when you feel your potential mentor would have been a great teacher to you. Sometimes, people have too much to take on more responsibilities. They may be dealing with career setbacks, personal problems or caring for a sick family member.

People have many reasons to say no to such a huge responsibility. Avoid taking it personally and move on. If you get a yes from a potential mentor, thank them for their trust and vote of confidence. Let them know they made a good decision. 

You can even go as far as sending them a gift for their troubles. It’s always lovely to receive presents from people in your personal or professional network. It may seem trivial, but saying ‘Thank you’ and sending a gift to your mentor will serve as a milestone for both of you.

In Learning You Will Teach, In Teaching You Will Learn

Being a man of substance requires skill, dedication, diligence and hard work. No matter where you are in life, it always pays to have someone in your corner who has more experience than you to guide you, cheer you on and hold you accountable.

Think about what advice you could give your younger self. A lot, right? Now, imagine having someone with decades of experience on your side to guide you. A good mentor will help you become your best self yet. 

They can guide you in your professional career, help you make the right life decisions, give you invaluable lessons you’ll carry with you and pass on to other younger gentlemen.

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Jack Shaw is a senior writer at Modded. Jack is an avid enthusiast for keeping up with personal health and enjoying nature. He has over five years of experience writing in the men's lifestyle niche, and has written extensively on topics of fitness, exploring the outdoors and men's interests. His writings have been featured in SportsEd TV, Love Inc., and Offroad Xtreme among many more publications.