How to Initiate a Relationship with a Mentor

Have you ever met someone and thought “Wow, I wish I could crawl into their brain and learn everything they’ve learned in life”? It may not have been those exact words, but chances are you’ve met at least one person before whom you admire and want to learn from. 

Having a mentor is a game-changer when it comes to both personal and professional development. The ability to ask someone with real experience for advice is even more important than ever as we continue to navigate these uncharted waters in our country.’ve decided that you’d like to initiate a mentor/mentee relationship with someone, now what? 

There are two key milestones in the evolution of a mentor relationship: Initiating and Maintaining. 

Before we dive into how to maintain a great relationship with a mentor, let’s cover the first and sometimes most difficult step - getting started. 

How to Initiate

Ask yourself “WWW”? 
Before you reach out to anyone or even think of writing an email, you must first determine why you are looking for a mentor, what you want to gain from the relationship, and who is the best choice for those goals. 
  • “Why” - Why am I interested in entering into a mentor relationship?
  • “What” - What do I want to get out of this relationship? 
  • “Who” - Who do I know directly or indirectly that could help me accomplish these goals? 

Start Small and Specific

No one asks for your hand in marriage before the first date - it’s the same way with a mentor relationship. Don’t come right out of the gate with a huge ‘ask’. When you reach out to your potential mentor, start small by requesting between 30 minutes to 1 hour of their time and state specifically what you’d like to gain from the meeting. During the meeting you can discuss your interest in having an ongoing professional relationship and lay out what you would like that mentor relationship to look like. 

Prepare for a “No” - Have a Follow-Up Request in Mind 

At the end of the day, no one owes you their time and despite how much they may want to help, the timing just sometimes just doesn’t work. If they respond by declining your request to talk, don’t take it personally. Prepare ahead of time for a “no” and have a follow-up request in mind such as a recommendation for someone else in their field that may be available or a list of resources that may help you.

Everyone needs a helping hand right now and establishing a solid mentor/mentee relationship can prove invaluable as we all navigate this changing economic landscape. Making the first move by reaching out can be incredibly intimidating, but don’t let that fear stop you from what could be a game-changing relationship for you. If you’d like to talk in more detail about how to prepare for a mentor meeting or what to say when reaching out you can email at or call my office at (310) 614-032, I would love to help you game plan.