There are many reasons why having a professional mentor is a good idea. A mentor can give advice for a start-up, help with a stagnated career, help for navigating office politics and can be an advocate for the success of the mentored. Asking someone to be a mentor is a big step to take. This is why it is recommended for people to think carefully before selecting someone as a mentor. Before sending a professional mentor request letter, the person should consider:
• Has the potential mentor shown interest in the person’s career?
• Has the potential mentor shared professional knowledge in the past?
• Has the potential mentor already spent time helping the person in his or her career?
• Does the potential have the knowledge and experience that will best help the person?
If the person has identified one or more persons who fit the above conditions, the goal is to build on those positive interactions in a more structured format. The person should then think about the goals they expect in the relationship, how they want to structure the work together and what the person will ask the mentor to do.
Next, the person should identify the goals and structure of the mentoring relationship. The goals may be specific such as communication style, how to get a promotion, leadership skills or advice on the next career steps. The potential mentor needs to be clear about the person’s expectations. The structure of the relationship involves timing. Will it require a meeting once every week or month? Will the meeting take place in a café or office? The timing and structure will depend on the schedule of the mentor, but it is a good idea for the person requesting to offer some different possibilities.
Once the above issues are clear in the mind of the person asking, he or she is ready to ask someone to be their mentor. The best way to ask is with a formal professional mentor request letter. The aim of this letter is to ask the potential mentor to consider the request. It should not ask for an immediate yes or no answer. There is a better chance the potential mentor will agree if he or she has time to think about it.
If the person requesting already knows the potential mentor, it may be easier to ask. However, if the person requesting does not know the potential mentor and selected him or her because of their expertise, it may be necessary to request a casual meeting, at the potential mentor’s convenience, for the person to introduce him or herself and explain their goals.
Some points that may be included in a mentor request letter are:
• A request for an initial meeting of about 15 – 30 minutes in which the person can present his or her goals and the potential mentor can ask questions
• A clear description of the guidance the requesting person is seeking. This should have been well thought out before writing the letter and attending the meeting. The requesting person should be able to articulate his or her goals clearly and quickly so as not to appear confused and waste the potential mentor’s time
• Clear confirmation that the requesting person is willing to do the necessary work and follow-through to take advantage of the help being received, and the person should show that they are ready to commit the time, energy and attention to make the most of the mentor’s counsel
• An acknowledgement of the value of the potential mentor’s time. Anyone who has the knowledge and experience to be a good mentor will most probably have a busy schedule. It is important for the requesting person to show how much he or she values and appreciates the potential mentor’s consideration of the request. If the potential mentor wants to decline the request, for whatever reason, time constraints are a graceful way to do it
Below is a sample professional mentor request letter. I should be written in formal business-letter style with accurate spelling and punctuation. If the person requesting knows the potential mentor, the letter could be hand delivered. Otherwise, it is recommended to send it by certified mail. If one potential mentor is not available, the requesting person should not get discouraged. There may be other people he or she can ask.
Sample Professional Mentor Request Letter
Name of Requesting Person
Address of Requesting Person
City, State, Zip Code
Name of Potential Mentor
Address of Potential Mentor
City, State, Zip Code
RE: Request for mentorship
Dear Name of Potential Mentor:
I attended a series of lectures you gave on Online Entrepreneur Endeavors at Name of Institution, and learned a lot about starting my ecommerce business. I believe that it would greatly enhance my chance of success were I able to have some mentoring at this point. I would like the opportunity to gain first-hand insight about ecommerce.
My wish is to meet you for about one hour twice per month to discuss my business efforts. I have done the groundwork, and the business is now online. I would make an agenda for the meeting as well as a list of the ways in which I followed up any advice or suggestions you give. I plan to spend at least five hours each week following up on our discussions.
I understand that your time is very valuable and that you have a busy schedule. If you are unable to grant my wish, I will completely understand. If possible, I would like to discuss my request with you at a time that is convenient for you.
I can be reached at Phone Number or at Email Address at any time. I look forward to speaking with you soon.
Signature of Requesting Person
Printed Name of Requesting Person
By Andre Bradley