How to Maximize Your Mentor Experience

How many of you have found a mentor, but then after a short time, things fall flat? Whether you’re just starting out in your career, re-entering the workforce, still climbing the ladder, or venturing into the world of entrepreneurship, a mentor can be of great value if utilized the right way. A study by Wharton found mentees were promoted five times more, and mentors six times more than individuals not engaged in mentoring. And Seventy percent of small business owners with mentors stay in business for over 5 years (twice that of one without a mentor).

research shows mentoring benefits

To be clear, what is a mentor? The dictionary defines a mentor as, an experienced and trusted advisor; someone responsible for providing support to, and feedback on, an individual. With a mentor, knowledge and experience are of greater importance than age. And although face-to-face meetings are priceless, don’t let distance or schedules discourage you. There are many ways to connect virtually.

Like any relationship, a mentoring one takes work. Go into this with a goal in mind that you’d like to achieve. Respect your mentor’s, and your, time by planning before each meeting. Write down questions you wish to ask, or topics you’d like to cover. Some questions and resources to help you capitalize on this mentor-mentee relationship:

  • What is your “why”? What gets you out of bed each morning?
  • What other groups or individuals would you recommend I connect with?
  • What books and resources have you found useful?
  • What are your goals? And how have they changed over time?
  • Tell me about a moment when you failed. What did you learn from it? How did you bounce back after?
  • What would you do, ask, or say if you were in my position?
  • How do you manage your time…juggling work and life?
  • Need more questions? Here are some others shared by Verge

Below are a few additional mentoring resources:

Want to try something different? How about speed-dating for mentoring? It’s what they do at Bizwomen’s Mentoring Monday, held this year on April 4th.

Or…how about reverse mentoring? Sharp Heels shares this idea of those established in their careers seeking individuals early in their career to get insight into what’s new in the industry.

What a mentor is not, is a sponsor. Sponsors advocate for you – mentors guide you. Both play an important but different role in helping you achieve your goals and success.

Have you had a successful mentoring relationship? What tips or resources would you offer to others that we didn’t share? 


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