Part 1: Mentoring, at its best, is like interviewing
This is a 3-part post, with Part 2 & 3 to follow
Mentoring is not easy, on either side of the table. If it were, Capterra wouldn’t need to offer businesses a list of 45 SaaS providers to consider. As difficult as it can be to find and build a good mentoring relationship, it is one of the most valuable and rewarding relationships you can have. What I want to do in this 3 part post is shift and simplify the way you, as either mentor or mentee, think about mentoring; beginning with realizing that mentoring is like interviewing.
If you approach finding and building a strong mentoring relationship as you would for an interview, you’d start by: Finding the right opportunity; preparing for it; and respecting the opportunity.
Find: Determine what it is you want out of mentoring. Do you want to learn about a certain field or develop a new skill? Then, identify where you can find that; Whether that’s in your current company, a local club/organization or somewhere else in your network. Lastly, you need to ask for the opportunity… After all, it’s hard to get an interview without applying for it. As Seth Godin would encourage us, act first!
Prepare: Before you meet with your mentor/mentee, do your homework on their background, their experience and their goals (if possible) for the time together. Come up with some questions/topics you want to cover before every single connection. Sure, you may not cover them or the conversation may go in a completely different direction, but there’s no better way to ruin mentoring than to waste the time together.
Respect: To the above point, respect your mentor/mentee’s time by taking the relationship seriously. Especially if you’re the mentee, don’t ask for a mentors often limited free time unless you’re going to actively listen to their advice and apply it. Lastly, be grateful for the relationship and for the generosity of the mentor/mentee sharing their experiences with you. The simplest form of gratitude is to express it (in writing and in words), but the most meaningful form of gratitude is to share your successes with your mentor; nothing is more rewarding to a mentor than to know that they’ve helped you.
Re-frame the idea of mentoring – one of the best ways to better gain from mentoring, is to give mentoring. Here are a couple good options outside of your office/church/etc:
-Mentor a veteran or find a mentor with Veterati
-Become a Big Brother or Big Sister