When someone agrees to be your mentor, they are excited to use their experience and expertise to help you progress through your career. They believe in you and are willing to put in the time to help you succeed. Because you want to keep the mentor/mentee relationship as mutually beneficial as possible, it is important that you take steps to maintain your relationship. Here are four items that you should do to help keep the relationship fresh and running smoothly.
Align Your Goals with Your Mentor’s Abilities So You Know Where to Focus
Because of the limited time you’ll have with your mentor each week/monthly, focus on how they can best help you. No mentor can meet all of your needs, so go back to why you wanted them as a mentor and how their knowledge and experience aligns with your goals. Create a plan for what you’re hoping to accomplish so you can shape the relationship towards those objectives.
Work with Your Mentor to Articulate Goals You Are Looking To Accomplish
Once you have your initial plan, schedule a meeting or phone call with your mentor to discuss what you’re hoping to accomplish. There should be a lot of give and take in this initial meeting. You’ve come with a plan, but you don’t know what you don’t know, and the reality is that no plan is set in stone. Every relationship will go in unexpected directions and that can be a good thing, so stay flexible and roll with it. Coming out of this meeting you will ideally have a set of long and short term goals and a rough timeframe for working on them.
Most professionals have very full calendars, so in the same goals meeting, you need to establish how you can best communicate with your mentor and how they would prefer to work with you. Some may just want to meet in person once a month, while exchanging e-mails as needed, while others may want to have a 15 minute phone call on Saturday morning to talk about your progress. This schedule will also establish what their expectations are in terms of communication. Some mentors might want you to call or e-mail them whenever you have a question, while others may want to keep any questions until specific meeting times.
Show Your Appreciation
Most mentors will be working with you out of a genuine desire to be helpful. This means that one of the best ways to thank your mentor is to make sure they understand how and to what extent they are actually helping you. Share what you’ve learned. Share the impact they have had on your life. Share your wins. And, don’t forget the little things. A classic thank you card can do wonders, and so can a simple thank you at the end of each meeting. They may not be looking for praise and appreciation, but they will still like to hear it.