How To Get The Most Out Of Mentorship
Have you ever hit a career wall, wishing you had someone to guide you to the other side? You, like many others, probably are in need of a mentor.
Many people, especially entrepreneurs, begin their careers without the guidance of a mentor. Why? Because they don’t realize how valuable they are.
However, most successful people attribute their strong leadership skills and professional growth to those mentors that taught them how to lead in business. Studies even show that 80% of CEOS had mentors that catapulted their success. In fact, 70% of business owners that had mentors managed to keep their companies afloat for more than 5 years, the failing point for about 50% of businesses.
Looks like there’s a correlation between mentorship and success, right?
Mentorship isn’t as easy as finding an older, wiser individual to guide you. In order to get the most out of mentorship, you need to put in the work as well! Here are six tips for getting the most out of your mentorship, so you can truly reach your potential.
1. Keep it a two-way street.
Mentorship isn’t just about the mentee… Mentors actually get just as much out of the relationship! But in order for this to happen, you need to give what you get. Show appreciation and gratitude. Also remember that mentors are busy people — try asking for small blocks of time, so you don’t clog up their schedule. This means thinking about what you want in advance so that you don’t make it hard for your mentors to guide you. And heads up… Most mentors and mentees get together about once a month to begin.
2. Make sure there’s chemistry.
One of the biggest mistakes professionals make is in simply asking someone to be a mentor. This doesn’t work! Find people who you naturally connect to and ask for a cup of coffee… If it goes well, ask them to see you again! Mentorship is something that happens naturally. Plus, studies show that a genuine relationship between the mentor and mentee makes a huge difference in the success of that mentorship. Without that relationship or chemistry, there is no noticeable difference between mentees and those without mentors.
3. Don’t rely on your mentor for everything.
Mentors are just that — mentors! They aren’t coaches, who exist to give you specific advice, or friends, who are there solely for emotional support. Your mentor should be someone who supports and advocates for your success, but not someone who gives you detailed advice on what to do to get there. Expect to hear hard truths, rather than just what you want to hear, and understand that you shouldn’t look to your mentor to fulfill every aspect of your needs. Your mentor is your cheerleader, not your therapist. In fact, there are different types of mentors:
- The kind you pay. There are many mentors who charge a price for their services. Remember how high the value of mentorship truly is, when considering whether or not you want to pay.
- The kind who has been there and done that. This is probably what most people think of when they hear ‘mentor.’ This is someone that doesn’t charge a fee… But that doesn’t mean their services are any less valuable!
- The kind who helps you directly as a superior at work. These are action-oriented workplace sponsors, who directly influence your workplace status and help you make connections.
4. Draft your agenda.
Don’t rely on your mentor to guide the conversation. Come prepared with questions, concerns, and talking points. It goes back to mentorship being a two-way street — it only works if you put in the work. Nothing’s more frustrating for someone than feeling like their time isn’t being honored — part of that means doing the legwork to ensure a successful meeting! Use Career Companion’s FREE modules to outline your agenda before your meetings.
5. Communicate progress.
Your mentor will be so much more open to helping you if they know you’re actually following their advice! Make sure you take the time to communicate your progress (and big wins!) to your mentor. Check in with them and let you know what you’ve accomplished, or what steps you’ve taken toward their advice. Also make sure you take notes during each meeting, so you know what to do moving forward, and what you can discuss with your mentor at the next meeting. You can then log these notes in Career Companion to keep them organized and ready for review!
6. Vary your activities.
No one wants endless coffee dates — you just can’t drink that many Frappuccinos! Next time you meet your mentor, try a change of scenery. Varying where you meet and the activities you do will keep the relationship fresh and help you build a stronger connection (remember, connection is key!)
If you’re attending an awesome event, ask your mentor to join you. Schedule a lunch, visit each other’s offices, or go for a walk in the park. Whatever you do, make sure it’s something both you and your mentor will enjoy. The more you both look forward to your get-togethers, the stronger the relationship will be!
Mentorship is a special relationship that increases self-confidence, engages emotional intelligence, and catapults success.
If it can work for Mark Zuckerberg (who was mentored by none other than Steve Jobs), it can work for you! Make sure you put in the work, understand the dynamics of the relationship, and stay engaged — you’re bound for success!