How to Build a Mentor-Mentee Relationship
No matter how driven and hard-working you are, you can only go so far alone. Finding a mentor is vital for those who want to take the next step in their professional lives. The right mentor can catalyze you toward success by helping you plan for what’s next – and what to do when obstacles arise. They can help you identify and fill skill gaps, share applicable knowledge and experiences, and fast-track access to valuable resources and connections.
Working with a mentor allows you to learn from someone else’s successes and mistakes – and gives you a clear roadmap toward your goals guided by someone who’s walked that path. A mentorship can be particularly valuable for women and those from underrepresented backgrounds.
Finding the Right Mentor
Highly successful people are typically time-poor, with many of their own responsibilities to attend to, so it pays to be laser-focused in your goals and expectations – and patient in your search. The ideal mentors are often not those currently at the peak of their careers but who have stepped back into semi-retirement or consulting. Often people at this stage of their careers are looking to give back to the community and are willing to put the time into someone who shares their goals and outlook.
Networking events, industry events and publications, local business development centers, and higher education facilities are ideal places to spot a potential mentor. If you do find someone whose experience or background resonates with you, think about the following before approaching them about a mentor-mentee relationship:
- Their expertise. Think about what you want from your mentorship and how well the individual you’ve identified can help you fulfill those goals. Do they have the specific knowledge, background, or experience you require to take that next step?
- Your goals. Identify what you want from your mentorship and what kind of commitment is required from them – and you. Be specific in your goals and objectives so that you can make the best use of each other’s time.
- Personality fit. You might be a great fit on paper but have divergent temperaments or approaches to your work. Your mentor should be someone you feel comfortable with and whose approach and perspective you admire – and should want to help you unlock your full potential.
Some mentor-mentee relationships evolve over time, while others begin with a formal commitment – often, the mentor will extend an offer, or the mentee will request one. Try to be explicit about seeking mentorship so that you’re both on the same page from the get-go.
Building a Mentor-Mentee Relationship
There’s no one right way to build a relationship with your mentor, but these tips can help:
- Open your communication. Be upfront about what you need, what your timeline is, and what you hope to achieve from your mentor. Discuss how and when you’ll meet or communicate and what kind of time commitment is expected.
- Set and measure goals. Clearly define your goals and objectives and develop a metric for measuring success. Make sure you and your mentor are on the same page and that you review and redefine achievements as needed.
- Be an active participant. A mentorship requires input from both sides – you can’t just coast and expect your mentor to open doors for you, and your mentor can’t expect to be completely hands-off. Engage, collaborate, listen and learn – and see if you can shadow your mentor if they’re local.
- Show up and be consistent. It’s easy to start out strong, only to let things drop off if you’re not getting immediate results. Reliably, consistently showing up and keeping a positive state of mind is key to your success – and a good relationship with your mentor.
- Be about more than business. Your mentor isn’t just a success story – they’re a person. Get to know them as a fully rounded individual, and your relationship will be all the stronger.
Position Yourself to Meet Your Mentor
At Optimum Coworking, we understand that proximity is a possibility. Our carefully curated business membership and thoughtfully designed events program bring high-performing individuals together, giving members unrivaled access to the thought leaders and success stories of their fields – and others. Whether you’re an experienced business professional seeking a mentee, or an up-and-coming leader looking to find a mentor to help take you to the next level, Optimum Coworking delivers an exceptional environment that fosters success in all.