How to initiate a workplace mentorship

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Last month, we published a post about getting established in a new company.

As explained in that article, one of the best ways to get grounded in a new job and brand yourself as a go-getter early-on is to reach out to potential mentors and chat with them about what they do, what they’ve learned at the company, and what advice they would offer a new team member like yourself.

Learning opportunity? Check. Valuable networking? Check. The question is, what’s the best way to start these conversations?

In today’s post, we’ll walk you through some tips on setting up these initial meetings. But first, let’s talk about all the different ways that these mentorship meetings can take shape.

 

What does a workplace mentorship look like?

A workplace mentorship is:

  • Consistent. After you initiate the mentorship (more on how to do that below), go ahead and get regular meetings on the calendar. A quarterly basis is a good cadence for mentors and mentees, but you could also consider monthly or bi-monthly.
  • Mutually beneficial. A mentorship relationship shouldn’t just be a win for you. The person you are engaging with should also receive something from your meetings. Remember that you have value and input to add! It could be that your mentor is looking for feedback about his or her leadership. Or perhaps your mentor would like to hear your perspective on the company culture for young professionals. Whatever the case may be, be sure that you’re not making the mentorship relationship all about you. “Ask not what your mentor can do for you…”
  • Actionable. In each meeting with your mentor, you should both be walking away with positive food for thought that you can implement in your individual roles. If you set those expectations with yourself up front, you’ll be charting a productive course for the relationship.

 

mentorship-pic

 

Setting up your first mentor meeting

Yes, this is your job.

If you want to receive coaching from someone in your organization – whether they are senior to you or not – you have to be the one to start the conversation.

Typically, an email is the best way to introduce yourself and set this up (unless you’ve already met them in person and expressed your interest in meeting regularly – face-to-face is always optimal, of course).

Here’s an outline of what that email should include!

  • Greeting. Be warm, friendly, and confident.
  • Introduction. If you haven’t met already, state your name, role, and title.
  • Reference. Chances are, you’ve been referred to this person by somebody else, like your supervisor or another colleague in your department. Mention that so the email doesn’t seem totally out of left-field.
  • What you want. Explain that you’d love to have the chance to get to know this individual better, learn about their role in the organization, and hear their advice for a young professional at the company.
  • Be open and grateful. When you close the email, inquire as to how they’d like to proceed. Give them the chance to respond before you set up a meeting invite. And be sure to say “thank you!”

 

With this outline in mind, let’s construct an example. For purposes of this example, let’s pretend that your name is John Smith, you work in public relations at your company, and you’re seeking to set up a meeting with a marketing director named Jane Doe.

 

Hi Jane!

My name is John Smith. I’m a Public Relations Coordinator in the Communications department here at [company name]. I’m reaching out to you to see if you’d be agreeable to a 1:1 meeting with me sometime this quarter. 

I have a passion for both PR and marketing, and I’d love to explore how our departments can become better aligned. As a young professional who is new to the company. I’d also be interested in hearing your advice for someone who is in the early stages of his career here at [company name]. [Reference name] suggested that I set up time with you to discuss both of these topics.

Let me know if you’re willing and I’d be happy to get 30 minutes on our calendars. What days/times usually work best for you?

Thanks so much for your time.

John Smith

 

Simple enough, right? While not all introductory emails to potential mentors will look like this, this example should give you a general idea of the tone and format that you can use to introduce yourself.

By setting your own expectations of what you want to get out of a recurring mentorship meeting – and by being aware of what value you can offer in return – you’re already building a powerful professional network within your company, and you’re sure to learn a lot along the way.

 

What advice do you have about setting up meetings with mentors? Leave a comment and let us know!

 

 

 

 

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