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How to ask someone to mentor you


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So I feel really awkward around the whole idea of mentoring. I really don't know how it works. If anyone can advise me...


I'm new to the whole professional career thing, and I keep hearing people talk about mentors, and how it can really help to have one, and how if you don't have one, you should get one, or three.


But there seems to be something missing here. How does one approach someone and ask them to mentor you? do you say it outright like that? do you really use the word 'mentor' or do you just sort of ask them lots of questions when you get the chance....


Any more information on the details of how this phenomenon works would be hugely appreciated, as it's not something I'm very familiar with.

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IMHO, before you can ask someone to mentor you, it's important to have a relationship with them. It has to be someone you "connect" with on a work level, that shares a similar work ethic, values, or outlook. It can be family, a family friend, a boss or ex-coworker, pretty much anybody. They just have to have experience to be able to advise you how to move forward in your chosen profession. S/he doesn't have to be the president of something to be your mentor. S/he also doesn't have to have a PhD. They should have guts, determination, and a successful track record that you'd like to emulate.


THEN, you ask for help. You express your admiration and ask if s/he is willing to mentor you, or assist you in your career trajectory. You feel out their level of availability and see if it dovetails with the help you need. You assess what it's going to take to "pay them back," or "be on their side" so if they need you for something (pay back time) you are ready willing and able to chip in.


Avoid any potential sexual situations, keep everything on the up-and-up.


That's about all I have to offer! Good luck my dear.

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In my experience it has always just kinda happened. A senior rep takes a liking to you, you may remind them of theirself or someone close to them and the take you under their wing, show you the ropes, introduce you to colleagues. Their essential for networking and learning the ins and outs.


If you are close enough to someone it couldn't hurt to pay them a compliment and acknowledge how good they are at what they do, then ask if they could show you the ropes. The only time I could see someone saying no is if it could create potential competition for them.

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I've had lots of mentors and those relationships didn't happen formally. I exchanged support for support. I approached them to ask questions, remained respectful of their time and advise, and I found myself being consulted for a fresh perspective on their issues. In other words, I didn't place expectations on them--things evolved over time into a give-and-take. I also received a lot of hit-n-run help from many people rather than relying on one person for it. This aided my relationships because nobody felt sucked dry, and I was able to 'pay it forward' regardless of who had helped me and who would benefit from my help.


Think in terms of 'dynamic' rather than structured.


In your corner.

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[...] And Catfeeder, I get the thing about not wanting to suck any one person dry. That sounds wise.


I think people have intuition about whether you are operating through a 'pay it forward' sincerity. There is something about such a state that prompts people to be generous, while an overly ambitious or manipulative quality tends to clamp people down tight.


Open up your human nature and let your generosity flow toward everyone around you whether they 'appear' to be positioned to offer you anything in return, or not. This lack of self-censorship opens you to same consideration from others--including people who can prove valuable in tangible ways.


Best wishes,


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Good point Catfeeder!


I forgot to mention, whenever asked by my "mentees" what they could do to pay me back, I always responded "Once you are more established in your career, do the same thing for another young person less well-placed than yourself." (Exactly like Pay it Forward, but it was before that movie.)


That is the ultimate feelgood, IMHO. Helping someone and they go on to flourish and help others. WOW!

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