Asking for Advice
The main value of a mentor is to provide you with advice. That sounds obvious, but what is not obvious is how to ask for advice. Here are some guidelines you can use in asking for advice.
- Never ask Yes/No questions. Ask questions which will allow your mentor to give you a broader guidance. Contrast these two questions. Which one is more useful?
- Does my LinkedIn profile look ok?
- How can I improve my LinkedIn profile?
- Provide proper background before you ask for advice. Your mentor needs to have the full story before he/she can guide you.
- Ask your mentor to “talk out loud” when they respond to your questions. What you need to know, in addition to what they advise, is the thought process they used.
- Always ask follow up questions. These questions should be designed to help you think through all aspects of the advice they are giving you. Consider the following example: Your advisor has given you guidance on how to make contact with a potential employer. A possible follow up question would be: “Can I use your name when I send my resume?”
- When the advice you need concerns a decision you have to make, ask your mentor: “What would you do?” Again, you want to get a sense of your mentor’s thinking in answering your question.
Whenever you ask for advice, you always need to let your mentor know what you did with the advice and how it turned out. This is a matter of common courtesy, and it helps reinforce your mentor’s interest in guiding you.