HOW TO ASK SOMEONE TO BE YOUR MENTOR
[EMAIL SCRIPTS INCLUDED]
In this post, you’re going to learn exactly how to ask someone to be your mentor.
These are the exact same strategies I’ve used to connect with and learn from some of the world’s top thought leaders.
At a Genius Network Meeting with Genius Network Founder, Joe Polish
In the Philippines with my mentor, Jonathan Levi, accelerated learning expert
Hanging out with Benjamin Hardy, the #1 Writer in The World on Medium.com
"Swimming" with original shark on Shark Tank, Kevin Harrington
And the best part is, today you’re going to learn how I did it...
... step by step.
FIRST THINGS FIRST:
THE DIFFERENT LEVELS OF MENTORS
If you could snap your fingers and get any living person to mentor you, who would you choose?
If you’re like most people, chances are the first few people that popped into your head are:
- Bill Gates
- Oprah Winfrey
- Warren Buffett
- Sara Blakely
- Jeff Bezos
- Elon Musk
- Tim Ferriss
And while those people are great and all, the surprising truth is this:
Chances are that each of those people would be terrible mentors.
Wouldn’t having any of those industry titans as your mentor be a dream come true?
Yes and no.
Here’s the thing:
What most people fail to understand about mentorship is that there are different levels.
Just like there are different levels to your career, there are different levels of mentorship.
Let me show you what I mean:
Let’s say you’re just starting out.
You have a job that you don’t hate, but you don’t love it either.
You’re stuck, and you want help to gain clarity on what to pursue.
To solve this problem, you want a mentor.
Suddenly, a magic genie appears to offer you two options:
- Option A: You can ask Bill Gates how to help you, but he can only give you 30 minutes of his time. After the 30 minutes are up, you’re on your own to figure the rest out.
- Option B: You can ask someone you admire who is several steps ahead of you. You can meet with them monthly for 1 hour, and they can provide you feedback and direction as the months progress.
Who would you choose?
Yes, it would be cool to get an answer from Bill.
But in this case, you are much better off learning from someone that is just a few steps ahead of you.
Now let’s take a look at the opposite end of the spectrum:
Let’s say you’re the founder and CEO of two multimillion dollar companies. You’re running into issues scaling your businesses and building a team to take things to the next level.
At this point, there are much fewer people who have solved the problems you are now facing.
The problems you need to solve are rare.
At this point, maybe all you need is 30 minutes with Bill Gates, and he could provide you incredibly actionable insights on how to solve your problems.
Where you are in your career will determine the level of mentor you need.
Before you ask someone to be your mentor, you first need to determine if they are the right person to help you evolve.
The last thing you want is to waste your time developing a mentor relationship with the wrong person.
With that out of the way, now we need to understand what the different levels of mentorship are.
After working with dozens of mentors over the course of the last 7 years, I like to categorize mentors into three different buckets:
- Tier 1 Influencers
- Tier 2 Influencers
- Tier 3 Influencers
Here’s a quick breakdown of each of the tiers:
- Tier 1 influencers are the people we were talking about before — the Warren Buffetts of the world.
- Tier 2 influencers are people who are incredibly successful and are on an upward growth trajectory, but still haven’t reached the point where they have millions of followers.
- Tier 3 influencers are what I’d refer to as more “local” influencers. They have a sphere of influence and a wealth of knowledge, but it’s not as big as a tier 2 influencer’s. They are fairly accessible.
If you’re just starting out, you’re best off learning from a Tier 3 influencer.
If you’ve spent some time building your brand and sphere of influence yourself, you’re best off learning from a Tier 2 influencer.
If you’ve experienced incredible success and are in a C-level position at a well known company, or run a wildly successful company of your own, then you might be ready to start learning from Tier 1 influencers.
Understanding this is the key to not only asking someone to be your mentor, but also to making sure the relationship is set up for success.
One final important thing to note:
I’m NOT saying that if you’re a “pre-tier 3 influencer” that you shouldn’t reach out to a tier 1 influencer.
But you must realize that the level of influencer will dramatically change both:
- Your approach to how you ask for mentorship
- The structure of the mentorship
HOW TO ASK SOMEONE TO BE YOUR MENTOR PRO TIP:
Really take the time to figure out where you stand on this spectrum.
Knowing the exact person you should reach out to will not only save you time, but it’ll increase your chances of getting a mentor that can help you achieve your goals faster.
HOW TO DETERMINE THE IDEAL MENTORSHIP FORMAT
Now that you understand the different levels of mentorship, the next thing you must understand is the ideal mentorship format.
While that may sound fancy and unnecessary, the truth is that understanding this will dramatically impact the likelihood that someone will agree to mentor you.
If you find the ideal mentor, pitch them perfectly, but ask them for the wrong format of mentorship, you may have just tossed your opportunity out the window.
Let me show you what I mean:
No matter how successful you are, Oprah probably doesn’t have the time to meet with you for one hour meetings on a monthly basis.
On the other hand...
... a tier 3 influencer might.
With that being said:
Your mentor’s level of influence will determine your mentorship format.
Here are some rules of thumb:
- Tier 3 influencers are best for the most “formal” form of mentorship. With a tier 3 influencer as a mentor, monthly 30-60 minute meetings are 100% acceptable.
- Tier 2 influencer relationships are not as black and white as a tier 3 mentor relationship. Because a tier 2 influencer’s time is more limited than a tier 3’s, chances are that the meetings will have to be less frequent. But there is an exception, and that is if you can get a position working for a tier 2 influencer. We’ll get to more of that in a bit.
- Tier 1 influencers will require a much more “hands off” kind of mentorship. Because their time is extremely limited, the mentorship you will receive will most likely be in the form of the ability to ask them questions. In other words, an ideal mentorship situation with a tier 1 influencer might be the permission to ask them an occasional question via email only when you’re stuck and have exhausted all other options.
Now that you understand both the different levels of mentors and the ideal mentorship format, there is one more thing you must understand before we go in for the “ask”:
Why Asking Someone To Be Your Mentor Is Like Going In For A First Kiss
Learning how to ask someone to be your mentor is a little bit like going in for the first kiss.
If you Google “how to approach a first kiss” you all of these articles pop up about how to make the approach:
Click on any of those articles, and they are filled with advice like “approach smoothly” or “position yourself strategically.”
But here’s the crazy part:
Ask any person who’s been kissed on a first date, and I can guarantee their decision to go with the kiss or not had nearly NOTHING to do with “the approach.”
It doesn’t matter how “strategically” you position yourself, or how “smooth” your approach is...
... the person you want to kiss made up their mind HOURS ago.
Sure, the end “move” might play a small part.
But in reality, it was how the rest of the date went that will determine the outcome of the kiss.
The same is true with mentorship.
The “ask” doesn’t carry as much weight as all of your previous interactions with them.
In other words:
How you set up for the ask is more important than the ask itself.
If they are going to say yes to mentoring you, they must be confident that you will be a good mentee!
For the most part, this depends on one small thing:
Your proven ability to implement.
Chances are, you will not pay your mentors — so what’s in it for them?
From my experience, the most rewarding thing for a mentor is seeing their mentee grow..
And in order for you to grow, you have to ACTUALLY USE what they teach you!
So to tie the kissing analogy together with this new insight:
In all of your initial interactions with your desired mentor, you must demonstrate that you have a proven track record of execution.
There are three main ways that I like to do this:
FOCUS ON BUILDING A RESULTS DRIVEN ONLINE PRESENCE
There is a good chance that if someone agrees to mentor you, they will first check out your online presence.
That means that your LinkedIn profile, personal website, and other prominent online platforms must demonstrate your ability to execute.
AKA no fluff.
Show the results you have gotten in your previous positions by backing them up with facts.
Ex. “Provided excellent customer service” = super vanilla, everyone can say that.
“Led customer service team to increase customer satisfaction 20% as indicated by surveys” = much better.
Get introduced to your ideal mentor by someone they trust, or mention a mutual connection
How you first get in contact with your ideal mentor will play a large role in the development of the relationship.
If you were introduced to them by someone they trust, or you at least mention the mutual connection, they are much more likely to believe that you are a go-getter.
(I’ll write an entire article about this later)
Prove to them that you already used their content to get results
There is a good chance that the person you want as a mentor has created some kind of content which got you interested in them in the first place.
Maybe they gave a speech you attended, or wrote a powerful blog post.
Whatever it was, I ALWAYS like to demonstrate to them that I’ve already received results from their content by sharing my wins with them.
If you’ve done these three things, you’re now in a much better position to make “the ask.”
Examples Of How To Ask Someone To Be Your Mentor: The Asks
As a quick recap, up until this point we have:
- Determined the level of mentor that we want to reach out to
- Used the level of mentor we want to approach to identify the proper mentorship structure
- Learned the 3 best ways to prove to a mentor that you are worth their time as a mentee
Now we are almost ready to make “the ask.”
First things first:
I don’t believe in directly asking someone to be your mentor.
From the mentor’s perspective, this is super uncomfortable for two main reasons:
- They are probably very busy, and any formal commitment on their time will most likely cause their knee jerk reaction to be “no”
- To them, the words “will you be my mentor” = unlimited free consulting
So if you can’t ask them directly, how can you ask?
The truth is, how you ask someone to be your mentor will vary based on the situation.
To simplify things, I’ve provided several scripts I’d use depending on the level of influencer.
Asking a “Tier 1” Influencer To Be Your Mentor
Being completely transparent, while I have met and worked with several Tier 1 influencers, I don’t yet have anyone I’d refer to as my mentor.
Remember, chances are you’re MUCH better off learning from a Tier 2 or Tier 3 influencer.
However, I’m not just going to leave you hanging here. I’d like to point you in the direction of two of the best resources I’ve come across on this topic.
If you aren’t familiar with Tim Ferriss, he’s perhaps one of the world’s most connected people. Specifically, one of the things he is best known for is developing relationships with some of the world’s most impressive people.
In this article, Tim provided a script that he would use to reach out to someone that is very high stature:
I know you're really busy and that you get a lot of emails, so this will only take sixty seconds to read.
[Here is where you say who you are: add one or two lines that establish your credibility.]
[Here is where you ask your very specific question.]
I totally understand if you're too busy to respond, but even a one- or two-line reply would really make my day.
All the best,
Another phenomenal resource that you can find from Tim on the topic of mentorship is this podcast episode. (Start at 6:26).
Again, keep in mind that an ideal Tier 1 Influencer relationship will probably not be as formal as a relationship with a Tier 2 or Tier 3 influencer.
Your primary goal here is to get their advice on a very infrequent basis to help you when you are stuck.
Asking a “Tier 2 Influencer” To Be Your Mentor
I have much more experience obtaining mentorship from Tier 2 influencers.
My most cherished mentor today is Jonathan Levi — top Udemy instructor with 200,000+ students, award winning podcast host with over 3 million downloads, and successful 7 figure entrepreneur.
I even have an entire course on how anyone can connect with and learn from Tier 2 influencers to dramatically accelerate their career trajectory.
So while there are multiple approaches you can take to this, I’m going to teach you what I’d consider to be the most universally applicable technique.
The first thing you must understand is also the most important:
The entire email must be positioned as a win for them.
Yes, I know YOU want them to be your mentor.
But if you want that to actually happen, you have to first provide value to them. That means you have to position yourself as a giver, not a taker.
Before you craft your pitch, come up with several huge “wins” for the influencer that would make it a no brainer for them to say yes to letting you start to get closer to them.
That could mean:
- Identifying a big goal that they have, and offering to help them for free (my personal favorite)
- Using your resources to get them..
- More email subscribers
- More followers
- More customers
- More exposure
If you want more in depth instructions on the best ways you can reach out to people in a way that actually gets noticed, I wrote an entire book on this topic. Visit here for more information.
Once you’ve identified a way that you can provide value to the influencer, you’re ready to craft an email to them.
The first email needs to accomplish two things:
Prove to them that you take action, you’re not a random weirdo on the internet, and that you mean business.
Make it a no brainer for them to say “yes” to you
Here’s the exact email I’d use:
Your [blog, podcast, youtube video etc] about [topic] was incredibly helpful. [sentence summary of the amazing result you got from the content].
Because of those results, I binged on your content and stalked you a little (in a totally non-creepy way), and noticed that you’re focused on [project their working on/ goal they are striving for].
I identified [NUMBER] low-hanging, high-impact improvements that could help you get there faster, and I’d love to help completely gratis.
If you find it valuable, I’d love to find a way to work with you on a more formal arrangement, but I’d be 100% happy just for the opportunity to network and receive a bit of advice.
Would it be a bad idea to send you my list of [NUMBER] improvements?
- [YOUR NAME]
[YOUR PHONE #]:
[YOUR SKYPE USERNAME]:
Again, for an in-depth training on the best ways to write emails that get noticed, check out my newest book, The Magic Connection Method, right here.
But, working for free is what landed me my first opportunity to work with Jonathan Levi, and we now have a business venture together.
Having the right mentor on your side will pay off 100x.
Asking a “Tier 3 Influencer” To Be Your Mentor
If you’re reaching out to a tier 3 influencer, you can be a bit more direct with your outreach.
The goal with the first email is to set up a meeting either in person or via conferencing.
Here’s an example of what I’d send to meet up with a Tier 3 Influencer (hat tip to my friend David Kelly for this email he sent to a mentor for a meeting).
[Sincere compliment showing you value or got results from their work / mention you have a mutual connection / show them you promoted their content or shared with friends]
Right now I’m working on [PROJECT/GOAL] so I’m glad I stumbled across [WHERE YOU FOUND THEM ONLINE].
I live in [AREA], too — and one of my goals for 2019 is to meet more awesome people.
Here's 3 reasons why grabbing a 15-minute coffee together won't suck:
- I'm not gonna beg you for a job. Or ask for investors. Or other sketchy things. 100% just want to meet other incredible people.
- Happy to [WAY THAT YOU CAN ADD VALUE TO THEM] so there’s value for you.
- I'll buy you a coffee, so hey, free coffee, right?
Happy to coordinate a time and come towards you.
You around [this/next] [DAY OF WEEK]?
Obviously this email is set up for meeting with someone local for a coffee, so feel free to modify it to work for your situation.
Now It’s Your Turn: How Will You Ask Someone To Be Your Mentor?
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