As I mentioned in part one of this series, mentors are different than friends because you should have an agenda or list of topics to talk about when you meet.
The most important thing to do is to make a plan and set boundaries. A good mentorship plan dictates how working with your mentor will get you from point A to point B. Boundaries are crucial because as you are not paying your mentor, you will have to be sensitive to the time they can dedicate to you.
Boundaries should include how long meetings last, how much contact you have between meetings as well as the issues your mentor helps you with. For example, if you’re working with a mentor to pivot your career, but then randomly want to start talking about your financials, that would make your meetings less effective.
Like dating, this will take some trial and error. Some mentors may have stricter limitations on time than others. But it can’t hurt to set expectations so that both of you are getting something out of the relationship. Mentorship is a two way street.
Don’t forget that you too can become a mentor to someone as well. I recently spoke to @StacyZapar , founder of Tenfold and The Talent Agency, about mentorship and she put it well when she said, “Continue to pay it forward. Once things take off for you (and they will, which is why mentors invest their time with you!) continue the trend by finding others that you believe in and can mentor.”
Lastly, always respect their time and the advice they give you. Having a mentor is valuable, and keeping that mentor can be the difference between accomplishing your goals or not accomplishing them.
What am I really getting out of having a mentor?
No one expects you to have everything figured out this early on in your career. You’re not supposed to know all the answers. A mentor acts as the light guiding you through the tunnel in dark moments when you’re not sure which way to turn. They’ll have the experience and knowledge to answer questions that you otherwise wouldn’t know whom to ask.
Using other people’s experiences (and learning from their mistakes) helps you make smarter decisions in your career -- and your life. There’s a huge benefit from hearing other people’s points of views and unbiased opinions. You can’t always get that type of guidance from friends and family. There are many opportunities and directions that exist on your career path that you’re probably not aware of that your mentor can inform you about.
Having a mentor in your pocket will allow you take bolder risks and have less fear of failure. At the end of the day, support in your professional life will provide you with the confidence you need to succeed.
A few resources for finding a mentor or becoming one: