So you read the last A Simple How To and promptly signed up for The Mentor Method (or maybe a company wide mentoring service) and you have just gotten an email with all of your mentor's details. This list will show you how to turn that name and email into a lasting, impactful mentor/mentee relationship.
Reach out first. As the mentee, you are in charge of setting the schedule and requesting times to meet. The mentor is giving their time to help you further your career. They will be invested in you, but you need to show that you are dedicated to the process.
Know your goals. Before you even meet this person, know what you hope to gain from them. If it is the first time you have met a potential mentor, it might be asking them to become your mentor. If they’re already your mentor, it might be a skill you want to learn or a contact you want to secure.
Have an agenda set. This is not a social coffee where you can discuss the weather and your dogs (as cute as they are), rather come prepared with a preset agenda of what you would like to fill your time together with. Bonus points if you email it to them before hand.
Get to know your mentor. People invest their work into people they know and trust. So, get to know their kids names or where they went to college but you do not need to spend enough time talking about your lives that after the first meeting you can name all 17 of their gold fish and what their favorite drink is from Starbucks.
Ask about how you can be helpful to them. They will be used to people coming to them and just asking for things. You can prove your business savvy by asking how you can be helpful and if they give you something to do, you can prove your business worth by showing them what an amazing job you’ve done.
Get advice. You’re at a business coffee to learn. Take advantage of that!
Get to your ask. Know what your ask is going into the meeting. If you have a major ask (like “will you be my mentor”), make sure that everything you say leading up to it is relevant and builds your case as to why they should give you what you want. But do not end on it. No one likes a clinical salesman type, it’ll leave your coffee-mate feeling used, instead place it in the last quarter of your talk.
Don’t be too comfortable. You’re building a professional relationship, don’t kick your shoes off and discuss your deepest-most secrets the first time you meet. Stay friendly but keep in mind, that you’re a professional and you need to maintain some level of professionalism.
Take this list and be free. Go to business coffees and handle them like a boss. If it feels awkward now, each time will improve it. One day soon, someone will be asking you to mentor them over a coffee on your lunch break. Until that day gets here, keep asking, keep meeting, and keep drinking the liquid energy that fuels America.
Come back next week to check out A Simple How To: I’m a Mentor, Now What?