Business mentorship provides you with a great opportunity to develop, mentorships do not necessarily have to be formal, you can have informal mentors; ones you learn from every now and then. Infact, It’s good to go through life with the consciousness that there’s something you can learn from everyone you meet.
However, formal (structured) business mentorships can be very helpful in building your career. Mentors should challenge you, provide experienced advice, give perspectives and act as sounding boards. Here are steps you can take to make sure you get the most of your relationship with your mentor.
- Be intentional, know what you want to get out of the mentor– mentee relationship. Define goals you want to achieve from working with a mentor.
- Select the right mentor. Pick one who will be most suitable for what you intend to achieve at every particular phase in your life and career. What sort of expertise/ background would you like your mentor to have? Do you want a mentor that will improve your strengths or weaknesses? It’s important to get a mentor that matters and that you can build a lasting relationship with.
- Have realistic expectations you and your mentor agree on; be willing to take risks and accept challenges.
- Take responsibility of your own learning. Organize, cultivate and nurture the relationship. Seek out advice, attend meetings/ events you are invited to. Take the responsibility of preparing agendas for meetings. Always reflect on mentoring sessions and be conscious to apply what you learn from each session.
- Talk through your challenges with your mentor; they can help you with navigating through them.
- You need to have a genuine relationship with your mentor. Be open and honest when you relate with them. You also need to be open to feedback from them. Tell them the exact challenges you face, your needs and accomplishments so they are able to get a good picture of what’s going on with you and offer the best help.
- Be punctual to meetings with mentors.; be respectful of time and boundaries when dealing with them.
- Position yourself to get experienced advice from your mentor, draw insights from their experiences.
It is true that mentors offer you advice and perspectives that help you think differently , however, decision making is always up to you. You must be able to consider carefully whatever advice you have received in your decision making. It is in no way mandatory that you do exactly what your mentor has advised .
Also be open to the fact that your needs at every particular stage of business and career might differ. This might mean changing mentors or getting additional ones as required. Once a mentoring relationship has run its course and is no longer as relevant, find a respectable way to bring it to a close while still maintaining a good relationship.