- Show your interest in the other person. Do you have anything in common besides this topic? Do they like NIN too? Do they have pets? Kids? A garden? Love to cook? Put a little human in your business.
- Some people are friendly but are not good mentors. After you meet a potential mentor, do your research. Google them. Check out their public social media presence.The right people will be interesting, but also professional and community-minded. The wrong people will be very secretive, hard to reach or offensive.
- If the person you met seems like the right person, then check for availability. Ask for a lunch or coffee break. Ask a question online. If you find they are not available, don’t take it personally. Move on. Check back later. One of my best female mentors didn’t have time for me in 2000, but she does today. Timing is everything.
- Build reciprocal relationships. What is your mentor interested in doing? Do you have a skill to share that they are interested in? Have you learned a new tool that they need? Maybe they need support? Can you lend an ear to them on bad days too? To build long-term relationships you should reciprocate. What can you do for your mentor?
- Mention one or two specific projects you would like to work on with your mentor. The Harvard Business Review calls this micro-mentoring. This helps your mentor realize they aren’t adopting a little sister; they are working with a professional.
- Don’t stop at one mentor; gather a network of mentors. When I was single I had a group of friends I could call. After years of marriage, I was lonely; I called often! With many friends I did not wear any one of them out. Plus someone was always available. Do the same with your mentors.