I am unsure about my future. It’s looming and scary. I don’t know what’s next in my life.
To find direction and clarity, I turn to mentors to find guidance. It has been extremely valuable for me to find individuals in various stages of life whom I admire for certain traits, and interview them. Through this, I have learned important life lessons and gained wisdom about fundamental questions about my future.
I have a lot of personal experience with finding and interviewing mentors. My personal goal is to interview one potential mentor a month, each from different walks and stages of life. So far, I have learned about how to keep flying as a part of my life, the importance of accruing skills before I know exactly what I want to do, and how I want to prioritize my wants and needs when find a job.
Finding mentors and setting up a time to speak with them is harder than it may sound. Their time is always valuable, and if you make the ask in the wrong way, there is a good chance they will say no. Just like almost everything in life, there is a process that you can rely on. Even if your mentor is family or a close friend, the right email will convince them to spend more time and attention on mentoring you.
Here are the five most important steps to finding a mentor and requesting an interview:
- Find someone who embodies a value or characteristic you admire. Whether they are a great entrepreneur, committed parent and spouse, or someone who shows compassion towards those around them, find a trait you want to practice. The more specific, the deeper you can explore it in your meeting.
- Make your ask about them, not you. Include the specific reason, or reasons, you admire them, and what makes you want to become like them when you reach that stage in life. Go back over your message before you send it, and count how many times you write “I” versus “you.” There is a problem if the former outweighs the latter.
- Use proper grammar and format. This seems simple, but it is also crucial. Use the correct format, addressing and signing the email, and the proper grammar. If your potential mentor discovers typos, it might discourage them from meeting with you. Poor grammar and formatting presents apathy and laziness to the recipient.
- Offer something in return, and stick to it. Promise that you will come on time and be prepared. More importantly, keep that promise. Show up five minutes early and be ready for the meeting with a set of questions you would like to ask. Otherwise, you will be wasting their time, and yours as well.
- Ask, if they are willing to meet, what date and time works best for them, and make it clear that you are willing to rearrange your schedule to make it work.