Now that you’ve already figured out how to find a mentor, the next step is how to actually get him or her to meet with you. Below, seven tips that will not only help you ask a mentor out for a coffee and conversation, but also improve the chances that they will say yes.
Start by showing interest in their work
Everyone likes to know their hard work is valued. Next time your potential mentor gives a presentation, send them a follow up email pinpointing a few things that you liked about it. Or if they recently unveiled a new project, bring it up next time you see each other. Follow up by asking them if they’d be willing to continue talking about it over an espresso. Bottom line: Show that you’re interested in their unique point of view and experience.
Practice your elevator pitch
Who are you? Why should someone spend 30 minutes of their time with you? What do you hope to get out of this meeting? Before asking any potential mentor out to coffee, narrow down all of this information into just a few sentences and put it in an email. When someone knows exactly what they are getting into, they’re much more likely to agree to it.
Don’t mention the ‘M’ word
While it may be tempting to tell a person you’d like them to be your mentor — don’t. At least, don’t use the ‘m’ word outright at first. That approach may be direct but it doesn’t allow the chance to develop natural rapport.
Instead, try telling someone that since you’re still learning the ropes, you’d love to hear a little bit about their career trajectory. Another avenue in? Explain that you’d like them to offer some guidance on a problem you’re having.
There’s nothing worse than asking a mentor out for coffee and then making it impossible for them to schedule the meeting. Always try to be as accommodating as possible of their calendar. You always want to make it easy for them to give some of their time to you.
Keep it short and sweet
Don’t ask for more than 30 minutes when you reach out to a potential mentor for coffee. Time is valuable; therefore, he or she is much more likely to take the time to chat with you if you only ask for a quick moment out of their busy schedule.
And don’t forget, when you do meet, always try to keep the meeting within the established time frame. If you let it drag longer, your mentor might be less inclined to meet again in the future.
Get straight to the point
While it may seem easier to chat about the weather for 10 minutes, people appreciate it when you get straight to business. Talk about the reasons why your potential mentor first caught your attention and what you hope to learn from them. Do your research on their career and their trajectory, and have a list of questions ready to ask them.
But most importantly, be ready to listen. You are here to learn and grow from this person, don’t hog all the time talking about yourself.
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