As we talked about in the previous two editions of The XYZed, a good mentor may be the key to success. However, just because you’ve persuaded your desired mentor to guide you is no guarantee that your mentorship will be a success.
Some mentorships fail due to the mentee’s inaction or indifference. They make the mistake of thinking that they can just show up, sit back and absorb all their mentor’s knowledge and wisdom. If you’re inactive, if you’re too passive, then neither you nor your mentor is likely to get much of your relationship. Just as is the case with most relationships, professional and otherwise, you need to be active and engaged for the relationship to work. With this in mind, here are three approaches you can take to make the most out of your mentorship.
Know what your goals are
Before you even think about who your mentor may be, you should be clear in your mind about what exactly it is that you want to get out of a mentorship. Are you looking to learn a specific trade or skill? Are you trying to gain insight into how to run a successful business? Or do you just want a few tidbits on how to be more productive?
Whatever your goals are, you need to be clear about them. Clarifying your goals, setting your priorities and laying out a timeline will help you and your mentor to keep track. You should never lose sight of these and ensure that your mentor is always aware of them.
Keep up the communication
Whether you work with your mentor most days or just meet them for coffee once a month, you need to be in regular communication with them. Don’t forget that your mentor isn’t obliged to help you, they’re doing so because they’re eager to teach you what they’ve learned throughout their career. You in turn should show them that you’re eager to learn. If they call or text or email you, be sure to reply promptly and properly. If your response is too slow or too short your mentor may think you’re disinterested
There needs to be mutual respect between you and your mentor for a mentorship to work. They’re helping you because they want to, not because they need to. It’s important for your mentor to feel valued. Always be courteous with them, be on time to your meetings, and show them that you’re interested in what they’re telling you. If they’ve set down ground rules, try to follow them.
Finally, as we’ve already mentioned, your mentor doesn’t need to help you, they’re doing so because they want to. As the person who’s benefiting from their generosity, you should be conscious to show your gratitude before, during and after your mentorship.
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