Solidifying relationships with individuals who’ve achieved success in your desired field is, and always will be, essential. While the mentor/mentee landscape has changed quite a bit in recent years, professionals shouldn’t give up on the tried and true method of communicating their desires to those they admire.

These days, we’re more likely to forge relationships via social networks and impromptu happy hour conversations. Despite this fact, we can’t ignore the older, more traditional approach to communicating our needs to people who can help guide our professional path.

Top-level executives acknowledge that young professionals bring great value to organizations, so it only makes sense that we meet these prospective mentors halfway. When done right (using the 4 steps below), you’ll surely walk away with lots of useful information and a relationship that will continue to be beneficial:

Identifying the right mentor

Be able to identify connections (education, career path, region, hobbies, etc.) that you have with possible mentors. Knowing what things you have in common is helpful when breaking the ice… and having something in common may get you a few extra brownie points.

Asking for mentorship

Get straight to the point with what you’re seeking to gain from the relationship. No one wants their “brain picked”, so be specific with you request(s). Giving a clear ask shows maturity because you’ve done your research and have given some serious thought to where you want your career to go.

Offer something tangible

Articulate what you can bring to the table. Mutually beneficial relationships are best, so be prepared to give the mentor something in return, e.g. if you notice their social media outreach is lacking, offer a crash course on managing their Twitter page when you meet in person.

Chill. They’ll come around

Remember your manners. Millennials are a headstrong group, but stepping into the mentee role requires humility and an open mind. Be ready to listen and learn, and most, importantly, be OK with stepping outside of your comfort zone – that’s how you’ll know you’re progressing.

Patrice Cameau Avatar

Patrice Cameau is an award-winning strategic communications consultant who helps clients understand and effectively communicate their passions. She’s worked on public relations and marketing campaigns for a host of nonprofit and celebrity clients, including the USO, the Department of Defense and 2-time Super Bowl Champion, Troy Polamalu. Follow her at @patricecameau.