eeting with someone that you look up to for personal or professional reasons is an excellent way to grow as an individual. It is natural to be a little nervous about it but just remember- they were in your shoes once! More often than not, people that are well established in their professions are usually very willing to help those that follow them. We created a guide on how to navigate a meeting like this with ease. So take a deep breath and let’s jump right in!

What we are going to discuss today:

  • Finding a mentor
  • How to present yourself in the meeting
  • Questions to ask
  • What to do after the meeting is over

Ahhh… Wisdom and How To Find It

Mentors are sought after for a reason! They are individuals that often have years of experience that can provide insight for a variety of situations, problems, and opportunities. It is helpful to learn from individuals that have taken the time to reflect on their past experiences. The knowledge that they can offer you could guide you along your journey of personal and professional growth.

Unless you have a mentor already in mind, there are a few qualities a mentor should have before you choose one. They should be an expert in their field and should be a trustworthy individual overall. Additionally, an ideal mentor will share similar values or characteristics to you. This will allow you to connect easier and the advice that they give you will feel more personalized to your situation and goals.

A mentor can be approached in a few ways. One can be recommended to you through other people that are interested in the same field as you. Or by doing some research and finding an individual based on their expertise, background, and accomplishments. If there is no one to provide that bridge of connection then a formal email or letter could do the trick!

Presenting Your Most Professional Self

Woman and man shaking hands outside.
With a smile, warm greeting, and a handshake, the meeting can be started off in the right way.

Let’s start with the looks shall we? Before stepping out of your house, ensure that you are wearing an outfit that is appropriate for the setting. Whether it be business attire for someone or a button up shirt and polished cowboy boots, mentors come from all sorts of professions and backgrounds so wear what you think will fit the field best! Whenever you are wearing an outfit that allows you to be confident, then your confidence will boost your self esteem and overall mood. Others will be able to notice this and it will positively affect how they perceive you!

Once you are sitting with your mentor, there are a few things that you will need to keep a mental note of. Such as being an active listener for the entirety of the encounter. It will show your mentor that you value what they have to say and that their time is not wasted. While being an active listener, you will retain the knowledge that they are bestowing upon you. Doing so will make responding with thoughtful, appropriate responses that much easier! Showing a genuine interest in the experiences in which they are sharing with you can also help build rapport for future interactions. Don’t forget to express your gratitude for their time and knowledge!

Questions to Ask Your Mentor

Having some questions already prepared when going into a meeting will maximize the amount of information you receive from your mentor. It will keep the conversation flowing smoothly and even allow you to branch off into other questions that you may be inspired by at the moment. Make sure to carry a notepad and pen with you to jot down any notes or to have these questions written down in case you forget them. Reciting the questions a few times before the meeting can also help you become familiar with them and show your mentor that you are prepared.

Possible Questions To Ask!

  • What does your daily routine look like?
  • What are the most enjoyable aspects of your career?
  • What are the most unenjoyable aspects of your career?
  • If you were in my shoes, are there any steps that you would be taking differently?
  • What has given you inspiration?
  • How do you maintain your passion?
  • What qualities do you see in yourself that have made you successful?
  • What were some of your biggest mistakes or lessons that you have learned from?
  • What sets the high performers apart from the others at your job?
  • How do you balance your personal and professional life?
  • What are effective ways to network?
  • If I have any other questions, may I contact you again?

These open-ended questions will elicit thorough answers from your mentor and hopefully will provide you with more clarity about your professional goals! If your mentor is comfortable with doing so, you can retain their contact information and reach out to them in the future if you have any additional questions. Would also be a great way to expand your network!

Feel Like The Conversation is Dragging By?

Are there awkward moments of silence or is your mentor not in an overly chatty mood? Try not to worry about it too much! It is normal for conversations to have highs and lows as you go through an assortment of topics that may be interesting (or not). If you think that your mentor is tired from talking then give them a short break and talk about yourself for a bit! Connect any of your own experiences or stories to the ones that have been previously shared by your mentor.

To make the mentoring session more interesting you can incorporate some visual aids. It can be a photo, powerpoint, or object related to the topic at hand. Truly it can be anything that seems applicable to your situation and it can be something that will ultimately be productive. If these options don’t seem to be working then a little bit of humor might be your saving grace! Before saying anything, make sure that the joke is appropriate for the situation and audience. Humor can either revitalize or crash the conversation so use your best judgment!

Lastly, if the vibes of the session are still feeling kind of funky then maybe it is time to reassess. Everyone can have an “off” day here and there and that might be the case for your mentor, so maybe take the awkwardness with a grain of salt. But if your gut is telling you there is something more to it then this mentor may not be a good match for you. Don’t feel discouraged if this is true! Continue the search for a mentor that not only matches your needs and goals but also your personality. It will make the process much more memorable and enjoyable!

Reflecting After The Meeting

Woman standing while holding a coffee mug.
There is something to be learned from every experience whether it be good or bad.

The meeting is over and you can release that breath you had been holding in. The work is not over yet! It is time to reflect on how the overall experience was. Think about how you felt when interacting with the mentor, how your personalities blended, if they are knowledgeable, and if you feel that they are the person to help with your goals. Then redirect the analysis to yourself and how you performed during the meeting. Is there anything that you would like to improve? Such as lack of eye contact or lack of engagement. Reflect on the things that you did well! Celebrate those little accomplishments and remember them for future encounters.

If you wrote down any notes from the meeting then this is a good time to look back on them. Read over them to refresh your memory of what was discussed. If necessary, you can determine when or if progress will be made based on the rate of your learning. That way goals can be established for future mentoring sessions and your path to success continues onward!

Reflect on the experience as a whole. Did you enjoy it or was it too stressful?  Think about whether or not a mentor is the tool you need to further yourself in personal or professional matters. Sometimes it is not necessary but for others the wisdom that can be gained is priceless. You know yourself best so go with your gut and carry on with your journey.

We hope that this guide provided you with all of the necessary tools and information for securing and talking with a mentor. Trying to advance in the world can be a scary thing but mentors are available to give you the guidance that you need. Sometimes you just have to ask the right questions!

Mar 22, 2024