A professional mentor can help you take your career to the next level. Last time we spoke about how to identify and make contact with a potential mentor, so if you’re looking to establish a new mentor-mentee relationship, check out our previous blog. Today we’re going to show you how to build and maintain an already-established mentor-mentee relationship, so without further ado, let’s begin.
Your First Meeting
Whether it’s in person or over an application such as Zoom, your very first meeting should be about getting to know one another. In other words, you don’t have to keep the conversation centered around work and your career. Connecting on a personal level is incredibly important, so mix in some topics such as your hobbies—you might be surprised to learn you share some in common.
After some time, shift the conversation towards work, your career, and your goals. Here, you may also ask questions about their experience or any other topics you wish to cover. It’s perfectly acceptable for you to take notes during your meeting, so don’t be afraid to do so if you think you’ll have a tough time remembering anything.
Finally, end the meeting on a high note. Thank them for their time, and express that you’re looking forward to speaking with them again. Take note of any important advice you received during the meeting so you can begin to put it into practice. For example, you might have learned about the importance of building a professional network. In this case, put some time into making new connections so you can talk about your progress in subsequent meetings.
Thank You Email
After your first meeting, send a nice thank you email. You shouldn’t wait more than a week to send the email, and there are a few key things you should include. First, mention anything interesting you learned from them, then share a bit about how their advice has helped you. Once again, thank them for their time and ask them when they’ll be available to speak again. Here is a sample thank you email to help get you started:
Subject: Gratitude for Our First Meeting
Dear [Name of Mentor],
I hope all is well. I wanted to take a moment to express my sincere gratitude for the invaluable insights and guidance you recently shared with me.
Your willingness to invest time and energy into my professional development has already made a positive impact. The discussions we had about [Provide specific examples of topics] have been very enlightening, and I am starting to feel more confident in navigating new challenges and opportunities in my career.
I truly appreciate your thoughtfulness in sharing your advice and expertise, and I look forward to learning more from your wealth of experience. Please let me know if there is anything specific you would like to focus on in future sessions.
Thank you so much for your generosity in sharing your time and knowledge.
[Your Contact Information]
After each subsequent meeting, send a follow-up email. These follow-up emails can be a bit more on the casual side, and should include information such as any relevant updates, questions you might have, and a suggested date for your next meeting. The bottom line is, you want to keep the lines of communication open during times when you’re not actively meeting with your mentor.
In between the thank you email and your next meeting, do your best to make some progress using the advice you received during your first meeting. Moving forward, your professional development will be a major topic of conversation between yourself and your mentor. Other topics of conversation could be anything from industry trends and events, all the way to sharing new information about hobbies and interests.
If you started off meeting via virtual platforms such as Zoom, you may want to graduate to phone calls or in-person meetings in time. Either way, as you begin to build your mentor-mentee relationship, you should also seek to create a meeting schedule. Your meeting schedule will largely depend upon your mentor’s availability, so be mindful of that when choosing dates and times. Along with a schedule, set an agenda before each meeting to keep things organized—your mentor will greatly appreciate this.
Your mentor can be a great source of advice and guidance, but any successful mentor-mentee relationship is a two-way street. To this end, make the effort to check in with your mentor once in a while and ask if there’s anything you can do to help them. If you’re fortunate enough, they may let you help them with a project, which can be an excellent learning experience.
Keep an Open Mind
Your mentor may often provide constructive feedback about your decisions, the way you handle projects, or any other aspects of your career that become a topic of conversation. It’s important to remember that such feedback is meant to help you, even if it’s sometimes difficult to hear. On the other hand, some individuals have trouble accepting overwhelmingly positive feedback, so if this is you, learn to enjoy receiving compliments—they can help keep you motivated!
Your mentorship can’t last forever, so it’s important to be goal-oriented as long as you’ve got the extra help. Indeed, the day will come when the mentor-mentee relationship will end; however, you can always keep in touch with the people who have helped you along the way. In time, you might decide to take your experience and pass it down, just as your mentor did. Next time, we’ll talk all about what makes a great mentor, so keep your trusty browser locked in here.
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