Building a successful mentor/mentee relationship should be a significant part of building your career because it would be beneficial to you in more ways than one. These mentors will provide you with guidance as you find your way around the professional world.
Your relationship with your mentor will be utilizing a balance of both your personal and professional life which means you have someone with whom you can share your career challenges and concerns. We already talked about how to successfully choose a mentor but we realize that any relationship requires effort and so here are a few ways to ensure you are building one strong enough to survive over time and to remain beneficial to you.
- Be clear about your expectations and goals
You should be communicative about what you expect to get out of this relationship. First of all, you need to personally figure out the kind of mentorship you will need. After you’ve figured this out for yourself, communicate these expectations so this mentor can let you know upfront if they are up for it.
This part also includes your preferred communication channels (yours and theirs) and the frequency of this communication, how often you want to be able to reach out to this person. The purpose of this is to ensure that you have both gone over your preferences and expectations explicitly to avoid any confusion or disappointments going forward.
- Be Consistent
You should be willing to show your mentor that you are trustworthy and committed to this relationship by practicing consistency in your communication. Do not just contact them at irregular intervals like you’re barely managing to keep in touch. Follow up on leads they give you and show that you are a responsible person to be associated with.
- Provide feedback
Feedback is important for the growth of every relationship. Be willing to keep your mentor in the loop as to how well you are doing or otherwise. Whenever you are given advice, make sure to provide feedback on your progress or lack thereof. We are not asking that you carry out a quarterly evaluation test for your mentor, you should however be as communicative as possible in your interaction. Ask questions when necessary and let them know about your challenges. Since you already stated your expectations and goals when you kickstarted this, it is always smart to continue to let your mentor know how their guidance has worked for you so far.
- Be Appreciative
“Thank You”s are a great way to make anyone feel valued and appreciated. Since we have established that this relationship will definitely add value to you, a show of appreciation every now and then would be good. A small present as time goes on may not be so bad either, doesn’t have to be something that breaks the bank, just enough to show them that they are valued. This person is investing a lot of their time into you, you do not want to take that for granted.
- Find a way to add value
We have spent a lot of time talking about how this relationship will be beneficial to you but we should also mention that it is not entirely the mentor’s responsibility to help you, you should be ready to bring something of your own to the table. It’s a two-way street and so you have to be able to find a way to be just as relevant to your mentor; give back.
Find out what skills of yours could be useful to them or what links you could connect them with to help solve a problem. There’s always a way for you to add value so find it.
- Be Real
Mentoring relationships are just as prone to false personalities and the fear of exposing your true self to someone else. You however need to learn that there is no need for you to pretend or be fake because you’re afraid to appear weak or vulnerable, it hurts you more than it helps you.
Considering that this person has been down the same road you’re on, they can probably relate to your fears and challenges more than you know. If you are looking to maintain a long term relationship with your mentor (which should be your goal), authenticity should not be a problem. Be honest in your communication and you’ll be better off for it.