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7 things you need to do before you meet your mentor

Without a doubt, the biggest mistake that a mentee can make—and one that many make routinely—is failing to thoroughly prepare for a meeting with the mentors. When you haven’t done the necessary homework, you will just waste valuable time on irrelevant topics. Keep in mind that your mentor has dedicated their time voluntarily, show appreciation by preparing well for the meeting.

We’ve all heard that mentorship and sponsorship are essential drivers of success. Personal connections with a senior level executive or successful business person are crucial for professional development: getting ahead, making more money and receive promotions.

And even though we wish a mentor were a wizard who would with a wave of a wand make us excel, in reality working with a mentor requires joint efforts and coordination is necessary for a successful mentor-mentee relationship.

Without a doubt, the biggest mistake that a mentee can make—and one that many make routinely—is failing to thoroughly prepare for a meeting with the mentor. When you haven’t done the necessary homework, you will just waste valuable time on irrelevant topics. Keep in mind that your mentor has dedicated their time voluntarily, show appreciation by preparing well for the meeting.

Here are some tips that will help you prepare for meeting your mentor:

  1. Know how to introduce yourself.  Prepare your elevator pitch of 60 seconds or less explaining who you are and what you do.  It is an essential skill that you need – whether you’re a small business owner, freelancer or on the career ladder.

  2. Determine what kind of support you need from your mentor.

  3. Know your career aspirations/goals.

  4. Ask your mentor to help you develop in one particular area.

  5. Have an outline of objectives and learning activities for your meetings.

  6. Be brief, focused and gracious.

  7. Always follow up to let your mentor know the results of your discussion.

Some questions to start and maintain the conversation with your mentor:

  • What’s your single best piece of ….. (insert your specific area) advice?

  • What was instrumental for you in landing your job?

  • Have you ever run into a sticky situation with internal politics and how did you solve it?

  • How did you recover from your biggest failure?

  • What are the best ways to connect with… (senior executives, thought/business leaders) in…. (your specific area)?

  • How do you integrate your work and your personal life?

  • What’s the most important thing for someone at my career stage to do in the next six months?

  • What suggestions do you have based on my career field and goals?

  • Can you recommend two more people I should talk to?

Just as in other fields, your relationship with the mentor is a two-way street. Determine the help you need to accomplish your goals, stay committed, be open to constructive criticism and bring enthusiasm into the relationship. Mentoring offers many growth benefits if you are prepared. Are you?

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