Mentors can make a lasting impact on your life. They open a door to a wealth of knowledge. Regardless of where you are in your career, mentors are helpful influences. Mentor-mentee relationships come in all shapes and sizes. Some meet regularly in person for coffee, while others rely solely on email for communication. The beauty of your mentor relationship is that you can make it whatever you want it to be. Use these helpful guidelines as you begin to build a relationship with your mentor:
Select the right person – Your mentor should be someone that you respect, admire and want to be like. If you don’t respect them, then you will have a hard time accepting their advice and it can make for a rather negative experience.
Don’t overwhelm your mentor – You don’t want to be that clingy mentee who is constantly reaching out. Early in your mentor-mentee relationship, establish the frequency of your meetings and stick to it, unless there’s an emergency that needs to be addressed quickly.
Use your time wisely – When you meet with your mentor bring your 3 most pressing business issues to the conversation. This is your time to collaborate to solve problems and gain guidance. These 3 topics will also give you an agenda for your discussions and leave you both feeling accomplished.
Continuously work to get better – The very best mentors are only interested in helping you if they feel that it is going to be of value. If they feel as though their time and effort is not of value to you, then they will become more distance and less enthusiastic to meet with you.
Don’t make up problems – Instead of making up a problem to discuss, flip the conversation on them. Ask your mentor about their career path, if there’s anything they wish they knew at your age or something they recently learned about. This way you are still learning something without being dishonest.
Stay Positive – Remember that your mentor is offering feedback and not criticizing. Your mentor knows the progress you are making and are working with you (not against you) to push you to the next level. There’s no need to get defensive, the best way to get the most out of the relationship is to stay open minded and positive.
Keep things a two way street – This mentor-mentee relationship isn’t all about you. Your mentor also needs to feel like they are getting something out of the relationship. Do this by keeping your conversations flowing with both of you talking. Ask them insightful questions, share your own personal stories and offer help whenever possible.
Be appreciative – It’s important that your mentor knows how grateful you are for their guidance. They want to feel like their effort is beneficial for you. Make sure you tell them thank you often!
Do you have a strong mentor-mentee relationship? How did you build that connection? Share your experiences in the comments below!
By: Rebecca Clausen