This week I was at a Forbes conference on the future of the workforce in Detroit. My favorite panel, moderated by Denise Restauri, delved into a discussion of what women in their 20s and 30s need to stay engaged in the workforce. The subject of mentorship and networking came up quite a bit. Not only did the women on the panel (Kat Cole, Group President , Focus Brands, Inc, Swati Mylavarapu, Entrepreneur , Startup Investor and Veronika Scott, Founder & Chief Executive Officer, The Empowerment Plan) encourage women to get over the awkward moment of asking an almost stranger to have coffee (just do it), but also to find as many opportunities as you can to mentor others.
It is a weird dynamic to only reach out when you need something — so find opportunities to give first. There is no better way to expand your network than to freakishly seek opportunities to help.” -Veronika Scott
When it comes to mentoring I get a lot of questions on how to get a mentor. Here are some tips to help you get mentored.
- Don’t ask to pick their brain.
- Do network and go to events so you can build a natural rapport.
- Once you have established a connection ask if they would be willing to get together for a coffee. Simply say, “I think you’re great. I love what you have accomplished. I would love to hear how you found your path.” After that if all goes well, you can let them know you are seeking a mentor and ask to meet up once a month or so …at their convenience!
- Don’t ask them to consult for you for free. Asking for career guidance is different than asking them for intellectual property. Respect their time. Always ask how much time they have and what time is good for them. Consider a walk.
- Don’t bombarding them with emails. Do ask if it is okay if you email them every now and then with a question but put some parameters around it.
- Consider reciprocity. Some women just want to help and get a benefit simply from giving back. Others get an intangible reward from a creative exchange – an interesting discussion rather than just asking away. Do your homework on what might be interesting to them.
Check out Denise Restauri’s 40:20 Vision interview about Their Roaring Thirties: Brutally Honest Career Talk From Women Who Beat The Youth Trap here: What About the 30-Somethings