Be the Mentee
A young man I'm professionally acquainted with posted his frustrations with finding a mentor. His vent stemmed from a 'memory post' he had made one year before and he expressed that nothing had changed for him. A few of his friends chimed in agreeing that potential mentors didn't do enough to reach back and help those coming after them. So, I had to express my opinion and the purpose of this post.
Define what it means to a good mentee and then offer that relationship. What I've learned over the years is that what matters to mentors is their time being appreciated as a resource not a privilege of access.
Moving forward, remember this; Time is the singular resource that puts everyone on a level playing field. How you develop mentor relationships should resemble an 'elevator speech' of sorts. So out of respect for your potential mentor take these steps to make the most of your relationship building goals.
Define the relationship: What are you looking for-career guidance, connections/introductions or general life advice? Maybe your ideal mentor is the office rockstar and you admire the way the juggle projects and office politics. Perhaps their work/life balance appeals to you-moving up in their career but a focused parent teaching Sunday school twice a month. Take some time for self-reflection and determine if you need a mentor or just a confidante.
Refine the ask:
Be Clear-Express your expectations of your mentor- "Your career path has been remarkable, I would like your opinion of some of my career ideas/goals"
Be Brief- Do you have 45 minutes to meet with me for coffee or breakfast ?
Be Flexible- Offer a date/time matrix of the best times for them and you. Mornings on Tuesdays and Thursdays; Afternoon drive-time on Wednesdays and Fridays.
Reciprocate: Bring your own connections and resources to the table. Ask questions about what they do when they're not being awesome at whatever makes them appealing to you. Offer book recommendations, invite them to a networking event or expand on a common interest like a hobby or sports. Whatever it is, offer it as an expression of gratitude.
Lastly, say thank you. A handwritten card is always nice but often an email is appreciated and remembered as a connection point that makes you special.