In a nutshell: Becoming a mentor is a rewarding experience that can help you focus on your personal goals and improve your soft skills. Here’s what’s in in for you — and how to get started.
It’s obvious that mentorships benefit the mentee. After all, that’s the purpose. But what about the mentor? As a business leader, you likely had a mentor or two along the way. Now, it’s your turn to give back. And you’ll benefit from this mentorship just as much as the person you mentor. Here’s how to get started and why.
Having a mentor relationship gives you the opportunity to reflect on your own practices — in work and in life. Especially if the mentee is pursuing a career in your field, it will force you to review what you know. You wouldn’t want to misguide your mentee. And the advice you may give in general, like encouraging a work-life balance or discovering your passion, should remind you to do the same.
Mentorships not only help your mentee build meaningful relationships. The typical thought is that the mentor may be able to get the mentee a job one day. But, you never know what kinds of connections your mentee has. He or she might have access to people you’d like to meet. Plus, it allows you to practice some important soft skills, like emotional intelligence, communication and interpersonal skills with another professional.
You’ll gain personal satisfaction by seeing your mentee have success with something you taught him or her. And if he or she is in the same line of work as you, you may also experience increased job satisfaction because you’re passing on your hard-earned knowledge and experience. If the mentee works at the same company as you, it also gives you a better understanding of the firm’s inner workings by experiencing how other departments operate.
The first step to becoming a mentor is finding a mentee. While your company is a good place to start, it doesn’t have to be someone working at your organization. Business networking groups may yield prospects because you know the people attending those events are looking to build relationships. Another option is to ask around to some of your peers. They may have a family friend or entry-level colleague that is looking for a mentor. Referrals tend to work well because the matchmaker knows both of your interests and experience.
Be open to building a relationship with someone who’s not as obvious too. Was there someone at church or the gym who asked you about your career journey? Or maybe you did a classroom visit and a student wrote you an impressive follow-up email. If you realize a mentorship doesn’t have to start formally, you’ll see an abundance of opportunities as you go through your daily life. Start by asking a prospect if he or she would like to have a cup of coffee so you can share some of your knowledge.
For the mentorship to be successful, you need to carve out time for it. Once you’ve established your relationship, ask the mentee what frequency works best for your meetings. He or she may request to see you once a week for help writing a cover letter, building a resume and applying for jobs. But once a month might work if he or she is starting his career and is just looking for a little guidance. Plus, with the access to technology we have today, a text message, email or video call works when an in-person meeting is not possible.
You should schedule the time to spend with your mentee. It’s easy to let life or work get in the way of something that doesn’t have a deadline or tangible benefits. So, block it out on your calendar so you don’t overcommit. You certainly don’t want to disappoint your mentee by showing up late, having to cut it short or canceling at the last minute. And, before you leave the meeting, schedule your next session. It will keep you accountable for continuing the relationship.