At some point in your mentee journey, you will likely have to reach out to mentors you don’t know. Cold calling and emailing can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Following a simple framework for engaging in these activities can ease any discomfort and improve outcomes.
Suggested guidelines are as follows:
Be Authentic and Provide Context
- Do not use a template email or message: no one likes a mass solicitation email, so when reaching out to a potential mentor be intentional and specific to them. Mentoring is personal, so treat the person you are reaching out to with a desire for authentic connection
- Do not use the word “mentor” in your initial contact: asking someone to be a mentor is a major request and one that does not come lightly. Let the individual get to know you first or learn more about you before asking them to be your mentor
- Be thoughtful about why you are contacting them: demonstrate that you’ve done your research on their background and experience. Reach out with a genuine question or reason to connect with them beyond asking them to be a mentor
- Be professional and to the point: contextualize your contact. Detail a particular question you have and the reason for your interest in connecting with them
- Add value: detail how you can help or share an article, resource, or learning tool that might have relevance to them and explain why
Messages of Support
- Do not ignore inbound messages: as an entrepreneur, you’ll most likely receive messages of encouragement from people you know and those that you don’t. Pay attention to these inbound messages and ensure you follow up with whoever reaches out. These are individuals who took the time to offer encouragement and could be a potential mentor (or at the very least, an individual who will provide positive word of mouth)
- Ask for help: when someone reaches out, don’t be afraid to ask for help. They connected with you to demonstrate that they see what you’re doing; so, if you need advice, it’s the perfect opportunity to ask
Above all, remember that you have unique capabilities and experience, and finding the right mentor who aligns with this can take time. Finding a fulfilling mentorship relationship should be intentional and done with great care. The time you put into it will benefit you in the long run.