- Initiate the connection
- Compose your message
- How Robert made compelling asks of his mentors
- What happens next?
Now that you’ve found a promising connection, it’s time to initiate the connection. Read on to learn how to make a compelling ask and a great first impression!
You have two options for initiating a conversation.
1. If you'd like to view the person's profile before messaging them, start by clicking either their name or profile image. This will take you to their profile page, you can learn more about the person, their interests, and their experience.
If you decide you want to connect with them, click the green "Message (Name)" button, then follow the steps to select your method of outreach, indicate what you're interested in talking to this person about, and propose some meeting times (if applicable).
2. If you'd prefer to start writing your message immediately, simply click the "Message" button.
We've provided you with three templates that you can personalize according to your interests.
Choose a template and customize it as you see fit. The life preserver tips to the right of the screen offer helpful writing suggestions.
While we've provided templates for you to work with, we strongly recommend customizing the one you choose to make it stand out.
A compelling message is:
- Personalized - Tell the person why you're interested in talking to them/getting their advice; what about their experience caught your eye?
- Specific - Be clear about what you're asking; for instance, if you're scheduling a meeting, make sure it's clear what you want to talk about in the meeting.
- Respectful - Don't ask for a job or treat the mentor like a resource to be exploited. Ask for advice on getting into a particular field, instead.
Robert began reaching out to alumni from his school for flash mentoring - quick meetings where he'd ask questions about their career trajectories and fields. These interviews ultimately helped him understand what field he wanted to build a career in.
Robert acknowledged that reaching out to potential mentors was “little nerve wracking,” but argued that the platform “helps mitigate that a little, because the people who are on there have kind of self-selected, they’ve basically already said ‘Hey, I’m open to talking to you.’”
Also helpful? “Doing a small ask."
Strategies that have worked for Robert include:
- Asking for 15 minutes on the phone
- Asking for a quick chat over a cup of coffee, or even offering to bring a cup of coffee to the potential mentor’s office.
“I got really good responses. And the more good responses you get, the less intimidating sending that initial message is.”
Most importantly, though, Robert emphasized that you need to treat the potential mentor with respect, not as a resource to be exploited.
Robert tries to approach mentors “from a generosity mindset.” Pointing out that most mentors get requests centered around what they can do for the mentee, Robert reported that he’d made a lot of meaningful connections simply by “finding out what matters to them.”
He recommended that mentees “do a little extra homework on what you have in common with them — for instance, do they have a charity that you could come donate your time to? Don’t feel like you don’t have a lot offer the mentor. Just use your imagination, offer them something, and then be willing to ask for stuff (because they do want to help).”
Asked for some advice for first-time mentees, Robert recommended that they “just go for it.”
“I think young people don’t necessarily realize how eager people who are further along are to share what they’ve learned. A lot of them really delight in it, and a lot of them are not asked for their insight and mentorship as often as you would expect.”
We'll send you a notification when the person you reached out to responds! (You can opt in for SMS notifications or turn off all notifications here.)
You can access and reply to conversation threads from your platform inbox - access it by clicking the envelope icon in the upper right corner of your screen.
What if the person I reached out to doesn't respond?
Sometimes it happens. The person you reached out to may have overestimated their availability or ended up with an unexpectedly busy schedule. Or maybe they just forgot to check their email.
Either way, you shouldn't be discouraged! Remember, everyone who's available for connections on the platform has opted in and wants to help!
Find someone else who looks promising, and try again.
And if you're looking for some encouragement or want to get an idea of how others have successfully gone about flash mentoring, we recommend this interview with Robert Reeves on how he connected with multiple alumni for flash mentorship.