Mentorship Support for Entrepreneurs

How to Ask Someone to be Your Mentor

Many people express fear at the prospect of asking a total stranger for help as a prospective mentor. Why would they want to help you, after all? The answer is easy: People like helping other people. By asking a prospective mentor for help, you’re letting them know you admire them for what they do and that their career is in demand. It’s a good feeling, and many people are happy knowing their experiences and insights are valuable to others. It’s not universal, of course, and not everyone will see it this way. But as you continue asking around, you'll be surprised at just how receptive many people are.

How do you ask someone to be your mentor?

Use the following guidelines to help you prepare!

  1. Find a potential mentor

  2. Contact the person that you would like to interview, you can either call or email them. Make sure you include:

    • Briefly tell them how you found their contact information

    • Mention why you have chosen to speak to them

    • Be clear about the purpose of the interview.

    • Convey the parameters of the interview – day, time, place, duration.

  3. Arrange the day, time, place and duration for the meeting. Make sure you include a way to reach each other if plans change, so include an email or phone number

    • Be flexible or accommodating to the interviewee’s schedule

  4. Before the interview

    • Plan to arrive early

    • Being a pen, paper and a list of questions. Check our article on how to interview candidates to learn about interview question types.

  5. During the interview

    • Let your interviewee know that you’ll be taking notes and making sure it is okay with him/her

    • Ask questions that encourage your potential mentor to respond with an explanation

    • Ask follow-up questions based on the person’s responses and for clarification when you need it

    • Speak clearly

    • Have a firm handshake

    • Be enthusiastic and sound interested

    • Make eye contact for the appropriate amount of time


  6. Thank your potential mentor for their time and willingness to meet you

  7. Reflect on your meeting

    • Did you feel like you had a good rapport with him or her?

    • Did you perceive that he or she was available to you in terms of having some time to be helpful?

    • Does he or she seem knowledgeable and well- networked in your desired field?

    • Would he or she make a good mentor for you?

    • What are some things you might say, so you can follow-up with this person in the future?

    • Do you feel like you and this person had similar interests?

    • Do you have other ideas about follow-up questions to think about or ask yourself?

When do you actually ask someone to be your mentor?

If you ask the person you interviewed to be your mentor right after the first meeting, he or she might feel caught off guard and be hesitant to commit. However, if you show a genuine interest in getting to know your potential mentor, you are also giving him or her the opportunity to get to know you better. This makes it more likely that he or she will develop a true interest in you and your development, and want to be an advocate for you. Our suggestion is to ask for a follow up meeting at which time you can ask the person to be your mentor.

  • If they are not interested, say thank you and learn more about how to deal with rejection

  • If they are interested, request an in person meeting or video call if they’re unavailable

Sample questions to ask your potential mentor

  • Given my current entrepreneurial pursuits, I’m interested in learning more about what you do.

  • What was your path to become a business owner? For example, what school, training, and work experiences did you have that helped you to pursue get to where you are today.

  • What is a typical day at work like for you?

  • What are some things that you find challenging about being a business owner?

  • How do you manage these issues that are challenging?

  • What types of work or life experiences made a difference in your life?

  • What types of social or extra-curricular activities are important to you?

  • If you could change anything about your journey to become an entrepreneur, what would you change or do differently?


  • Act professionally and appropriately for the setting

  • Make sure you arrive to the interview on time or early so the person you are interviewing does not need to wait for you

  • Make sure to be a good listener and give your potential mentor time to think about answers

  • Be as natural as possible by trying to think of the interview more like a conversation

Why is interviewing a potential mentor important?

This is your opportunity to find out if they have the expertise to help you and if you’ll be a good fit. The interview should help you form your expectations about what the mentor wants from you and what you want from the experience.

Pro Tip

The “interview” doesn’t have to be formal, it can be in a very casual setting like asking questions while you meet to get pizza or coffee. Learn more about the interview process!