7 Steps for a Mentor Relationship That Will Build Your Brand
I have had the privilege of being mentored by some amazing business leaders and the opportunity to serve as a mentor to some incredible rising business leaders. I’ve been honored to serve as a mentor for a number of organizations including the Opportunity Machine, The705, and the American Academy of Entrepreneurs.
If you’ve never had a mentor or been a mentor, you have no idea what you are missing. The mentor/mentee relationship can be an invaluable resource throughout your career. When you are a mentee, your mentor can help you with a variety of situations like making difficult decisions in the workplace and providing long-term career advice. Your mentor is there to teach and guide you through your professional life and development.
Maintaining a successful mentor relationship requires time, focus, and effort. Here are seven helpful tips for mentees to help them to build a relationship with a mentor that will flourish and assist them with building their brand.
1. Define Your Goals
As you look for a mentor, you may be surprised by how willing people are to fill that role. However, you shouldn’t allow just anyone to be your mentor. You want to find someone who can help you to achieve the goals you’ve set for yourself. Your mentor’s role is to give you support and guide you toward your goals, so you need to know what those goals are before taking on a mentor. The right mentor for you should also have a personality compatible with yours and similar style of communication. So don’t rush through finding a mentor; take your time to find the right fit.
2. Understand Your Mentor
Once you have chosen your mentor, take the time to get to know them as a person and a professional. The more you know and understand your mentor, the more you can figure out how they can help you. As you discover more about their professional background and the career paths they’ve taken, you’ll be able to ask them for more specific guidance on navigating certain career obstacles.
3. Stay in Touch Regularly
An effective mentorship will only grow through regular contact and effort on both parts. Try to be consistent with your communications, follow through, and schedule some regular meetings and check-ins (by phone, in person, or virtual meeting). A little message here and there can go a long way in terms of cementing a solid relationship.
4. Prepare for Meetings
People want mentor people that are proactive, go-getters, and ambitious. It gives them an opportunity to add value and make a mark. Therefore, you should be prepared for every meeting and phone call. Before your meetings, give an outline of the topics you want to cover and be clear, so that you both know what to bring into the meeting to meet your targets. Show your eagerness to learn from them.
5. Don’t Be Afraid to Change
Careers and objectives change over time, so one mentor relationship doesn’t have to follow you throughout your entire career. Don’t be surprised if there comes a time when it may be wise to change mentors. Express your gratefulness to your mentor for all they’ve contributed to your growth and leave in a way that leaves the door open for future contact. You never know how they might be able to help you in the future.
6. Thank Them
A thank you means a lot for a mentor. Always be clear that you’re very appreciative of their time, advice, and support. Be clear and humble in expressing your gratitude. Take the extra time to write a handwritten note, which means a lot more to people than a quick email, and your mentor will really appreciate it. At the end of the day, they’re giving their time to your emails, calls, and meetings out of kindness and generosity, so be sure to recognize that and share your appreciation.
7. Pay if Forward
No matter where you are in your career, you know more than someone else. Make the time to serve as a mentor to others and pay it forward. As the saying goes, “A rising tide lifts all ships.” Take every opportunity you can to give back to others and share your knowledge and experiences.
Learn from others and then provide the knowledge and experience you’ve gained to others when you can. Be the leader you want to see in the world.
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