Reaching out to Mentors

Published on September 26, 2012 at 2:09 pm

Reaching out to successful people you admire and respect is a wise career strategy. Take an inventory of the professionals you admire. Be brave and reach out to them. Established professionals are busy but the best of them make time time mentor promising professionals.

I am always flattered when young professionals and even my peers reach out to me for an informal career check-up. I  enjoy being treated to coffee, breakfast or lunch.  The invitation gives me the opportunity to pay a favor to someone who might refer my services to a friend in the future. It’s a win-win deal. Plus, it gives me the opportunity to be kind and generous and and pay-it-foward and that’s always a priceless benefit.

Here’s an example of how to craft such a request:

Hello. I’m Caroline Kirkland. Lisa Jacobson suggested I get in touch with you to request an informal meeting – an “informational interview” is specifically what I have in mind. I’ve been working in the finance industry for several years and would like to explore the possibility of applying my skills in the non-profit sector. I’m especially interested in causes that support babies and children.
I’m sure you’re very busy, but I was wondering if your would be inclined and have time for a quiet lunch or 30 minute conversation over coffee, or at your office; my schedule is flexible.  I’d love the opportunity to ask you some questions about how you got started and how your career evolved.

Your input would be greatly appreciated and I will gladly pay the favor forward.



This post was written by Lisa Jacobson

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  • Sarah Morris says:

    Great post. I recently was assigned a mentor at my internship. So since I now have one: I was wondering if you had any tips or suggestions on what kinds of questions to ask your mentor? I’m a little stumped on where to begin. We’re going out for lunch next week to get to know each other and my guess is also see “what she can do for me.” Any help is greatly appreciated! 🙂 Thanks!

  • Career Candy says:

    Hi Sarah – I have some very specific questions for you. I will post them today in a new blog. In general, adapt this “mind-set”:
    Be curious
    Ask how your mentor got her start
    Show respect
    Listen attentively
    Bring a note pad and jot some notes down
    Be gracious and grateful

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