At some point in your career or life, you will find yourself needing a mentor. A mentor who you look up to and use as a guide to making the next successful step in your career. You see the qualities they possess and the experience they have gained and you want to tap into that wealth of knowledge. You make a bold step and ask them and they say yes to being your mentor.
Now the hard work is done, you have that initial buzz and excitement to learn from them. Here are some tips to help you be a great mentee and take advantage of being in the fortunate position of having a mentor.
Take Ownership of the Relationship
In this relationship with your mentor you have to be the one driving everything. You have to be the one taking responsibility for your learning as they are there for guidance. You should set up the meetings while also driving the meetings when they happen. Initiate the conversations while also following up on any questions or advice asked in the past. For some, this is very difficult to do but it’s a great way not only to learn but to show your mentor that you value them. Once you get over the fear of driving the conversation you will ultimately be in a better position. Taking ownership will show your mentor that you are really keen to understand their experience, and knowledge and also create a better relationship with them.
When next you see your mentor, schedule a meeting, set the agenda so they know what to expect ahead of time, and go into the meetings with your questions prepared. Make sure you respect the time frame of the meetings.
Be Teachable and Create an Action Plan
To be teachable you are willing to learn new things, obtain another person’s point of view and be responsive to suggestions. You are open to new ideas and also to receiving constructive criticism.
Whenever you meet your mentor make sure it’s as productive as possible. They would be on limited time so make sure it is time well spent. If they give you something to research, do it and go beyond the topic. After researching, always endeavor to come back with questions and also be prepared to answer any questions that may come up. This will show your mentor that you are really taking in the information they give.
Every meeting, phone call, or conversation should be met with an action plan. Do not always expect your mentor to be creating action plans. If they have created some for you, add one or two for yourself. This is a great way to test how much you have learned. Go to the follow-up conversation with new information, new topics, and new ideas to show that you are learning a lot from them. Give them examples of how you have been able to use this information in your life and career. This will show them that you are teachable.
Respect Your Mentor’s Time & Opinions
It is very easy to get carried away with having a mentor and then bombarding them with questions but you do have to be mindful. Be efficient when meeting with your mentor, do not bring a long list of questions. If you have a long list of questions try and cut them down. See if you can research and figure some out yourself, not only do you save your mentor time but you also have learned something. The more pressing questions you can now present to your mentor. Your mentor might have opinions that you do not agree with, and that is ok. If they provide advice that you think you do not need or agree with then you can go and research the reason why and present it to them. And even after then, it is ok to agree to disagree and move on to the next topic. Always remember it is fine to have healthy debates or a difference in opinions as it allows you to see things from a different perspective.
The key is to be respectful and to keep the relationship going as it is beneficial for you in the long term. Respect your mentor’s time, their work, and the advice they give to you.
At the beginning of your mentorship make sure you are clear to your mentor how they can help you. Always honor your commitment to them and try not to expect miracles, but go with a mindset that they are there to help you and you are there to also help them help you.
When you are done with your session with your mentor make sure you are resourceful with the information that they give. Take that information and study and then apply it to your life or career. Work hard with the tools they provide and take notes. Come back to those notes down the line and reflect on how impactful they have been in your life. If it has been a positive impact let your mentor know that advice months ago has produced these results.