Your relationship with your mentors can turn out to be meaningful and life-changing. It has been proven that people with mentors perform better, advance in their careers faster, and even experience more work-life satisfaction. But a mentor can’t be taken for granted - their time is just as valuable as yours, so don’t waste it.
Once you're you're done with the hard part - finding your mentors - it's time for the fun part - nurturing your relationships.
It's very common to be in a position where you have mentors but don't know exactly how often you are supposed to meet, or how the relationship works from there. Well, the fact is, it’s up to you to decide. It depends on how much help you need. Your mentor can be someone you go to with a new question every 6 months when you are facing a new challenge and need their advice. Or you could agree to meet once a month or once a week. Every mentoring relationship is different and unique.
If you're not quite sure how to maintain relationships with your mentors, you're not alone. Without constant interaction, it’s normal to feel unsure about how to move forward.
Here are a few tips on how to manage your mentor relationships:
1. Identify your goals - together.
Set your expectations from the beginning and clearly define a plan with your mentor for what you would like to gain from the mentorship and the frequency of your meetings. It won’t feel awkward to go back to your mentor with a question after 6 months without speaking if that’s what you agreed on from the beginning. It’s important that you both agree on the terms of your relationship.
2. Be prepared.
Scheduled meetings will work best if you come prepared with what to discuss. Take the time to think about your agenda for every meeting and share it in a quick note with your mentor prior to your meeting. This allows your conversations to be deep and meaningful. Be respectful of your mentor’s time and make the most of it.
3. Get to know your mentor - don’t always talk about work.
The stronger the connection between the mentor and mentee, the more you will each get out of the experience. Sometimes, just discussing work can make conversations too formal. Instead, open up! Discuss your personal aspirations, how you like to spend your weekends, and your thoughts on work-life balance. Open communication is the key to a strong mentor connection.
4. Follow up.
Even if you’re not meeting with your mentor on a regular basis, try to maintain a relationship by sending notes or articles that may interest them once every six months or so, just to check in. Remember birthdays, special anniversaries, etc. Make the extra effort to reach out to your mentor outside of formal meetings. Simple courtesies go a long way!
5. Thank your mentor.
Express gratitude for every opportunity you get. Be sure to ask your mentors what's going on with them at work and in life and if there is something you can help them with.
Like any relationship, keeping a strong network of mentors requires a little bit of prioritization. While a mentor may open the door to many opportunities, it’s up to the mentee to keep that door open.
Want to learn more?
Upnotch can help to deliver powerful, impactful mentorship to individuals and organizations.