6 Steps to Build a Strong Relationship with Mentor

A mentor can make a huge difference in the life of a young professional. Mentoring can take a lot of time for experienced leaders with a full plate. The good news is that you don’t have to be the protégée for the process to run smoothly. It can be a game-changer for both parties.

1. Start the day off right

It can seem like a big commitment to ask someone to be a mentor. It can be easier to get a yes when you tell them you want their advice on a particular skill, such as their ability to handle client interactions or their public speaking skills. A sincere compliment is always welcome! Ask them if they can arrange an initial meeting or a brief call to see how it goes. Consider identifying multiple mentors. A “board of advisers” is a way to expand your network and also reduce the time commitment for mentors.

2. Respect your time

Make it easy for them to meet. Michelle Gomez suggests that you set a time for lunch every third Friday, but also be flexible if the person needs to change the date. You may have to reschedule, but you should never feel like they are bothering you. If you are meeting with someone in person, arrive early or on time. Also, respect the end time. You should be mindful of your time if you’ve been given 30 minutes.

3. Prepare for meetings


Kathryn Bingham advises that you should always plan your meetings. She is the CEO of LEADistics, a leadership coaching company. You can even send a list of topics and questions you want to discuss in advance. Take notes throughout the meeting. Tara Carter, a Washington, DC-based recruiter at Williams, Adley & Company, says that dressing up for a meeting is always a good idea. You want to show your professionalism, and you never know what opportunities may come knocking. Carter’s mentor invited her to a happy hour after a meeting. The adviser then introduced her to other professionals with connections.

4. Take action on what you have discussed

Gomez suggests that advisors want to see if they are making a difference. Let them know the things you have tried and the results, so they won’t feel like you’re wasting time or ignoring advice. “Follow up after your meetings by providing bullet points on the advice you received and how you intend to implement it,” says Gomez. Then, make sure you circle back and provide an update on your progress based on the advice they gave.

5. Find out how you can make them more valuable.

You may have heard of the concept of reverse mentoring, where a younger colleague helps an older one master new technology or learn the secrets of another generation. Even if your mentor is a master of Instagram stories, there are ways to add value. You can offer your experience as a recent graduate to a parent whose teen is applying to college. You may be able to connect them with an organization that is worthwhile if you are familiar with the local volunteer scene. Business consultant Wayne Strickland suggests this.

6. Mentors deserve appreciation.

Strickland advises that expressing gratitude to your mentor can go a long way. Strickland says that you should thank your mentor for their help by sending them a note or buying them coffee or lunch.

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Mentorship isn’t a one-sided street. While experienced leaders benefit from sharing their wisdom, young professionals can make the process smooth and mutually rewarding. Here’s how:

1. Start Smart: Target specific skills to break the ice and respect their busy schedules. Consider a “board of advisors” for broader perspectives.

2. Time Matters: Be flexible, punctual, and mindful of the allotted time. Dress professionally for in-person meetings.

3. Be Prepared: Plan discussion topics, take notes, and follow up with implementation updates.

4. Action Speaks Louder: Show the impact of their advice, keeping them engaged and motivated.

5. Reverse Mentor: Offer your unique perspective or connect them with resources in your network.

6. Express Gratitude: Thank your mentor verbally or with small gestures—a handwritten note, coffee, or lunch speaks volumes.

By following these steps, you can build a strong, beneficial mentor-mentee relationship that fosters growth for both parties. Remember, it’s a two-way street, paved with respect, appreciation, and mutual benefit.

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