Mentoring Tips

How you begin your relationship with your mentee or mentor sets the tone for the entire relationship. These tips will help you create a successful beginning.

Tips for Mentors

  • After reading the mentee's communications, jot down a few questions that you can use as conversation starters in the first session.
  • Identify options in your calendar for regular mentor meetings so you can offer dates and times for future sessions at your first meeting.
  • Suggest a time and location for the first meeting, specifying both the starting and ending time for the conversation. Do choose a safe, public environment.
  • Start and end your first session on time to establish a good boundary with your mentee.
  • Convey your enthusiasm and make a personal connection via the tone of your email or phone communication. This will help relieve your mentee's fears that he or she may be inconveniencing you.
  • Follow up after the first session with a warm note of encouragement.
  • Follow up immediately after the mentoring session with any actions to which you have agreed.

Tips for Mentees

  • Send your resume and a few brief paragraphs that describe your work and personal history to your mentor, along with a word of thanks for volunteering to be your mentor (electronically or via hard copy).
  • Request your mentor's contact information, including the contact information for his or her assistant.
  • Read up on your mentor. Google and add your mentor on LinkedIn. Read any news, published work, or announcements that are publicly available.
  • Get a journal or notebook that can be used exclusively for taking notes during your mentoring sessions. Also use it to hold any related materials.
  • Dress professionally for the session, as you would for an interview. You may shift to more casual business attire later on, but be aware that you will make an important impression in the first meeting.
  • Take notes during the session. However, don't do so extensively, or it will feel like an interview.
  • Pay attention to time and bring the conversation to a close when you reach the time limit indicated by the mentor.
  • Follow up immediately after the first session with thank-you note and with any actions to which you have agreed.
  • Confirm the date, time, and location of your next mentoring session. Send an email one to two days prior to confirm that the mentor is still "on" for the next session.
  • Stay connected with your mentor. You never know when, or if a situation in the future will arise and you need there guidance again.

How to be a Great Mentor

Mentoring can be a challenge that is well worth your time and effort. Use these 14 tips to get the most out of
mentoring sessions, for both you and your mentee.
  1. Be fully present. Mentoring requires excellent listening skills and your full attention. Set aside daily pressures during a mentoring session so that you can devote your full attention to your mentee.
  2. Take time to make a personal connection at the start of the session. One of the pleasures of a mentoring relationship is the sense of connection between two people, so take time to make a personal connection.
  3. Ask open-ended questions. To provide a relevant perspective, a mentor must understand the mentee's situation and concerns at a deep level. Ask questions that call for a reflective response.
  4. Listen with curiosity, not judgment. Be conscious of your own listening and strive for deep listening that comes from your own curiosity rather than problem solving.
  5. Try not to interrupt, unless there is a need to manage time or focus the dialogue. Do paraphrase or repeat what the mentee says to confirm that your understanding is accurate.
  6. Ask direct questions to focus the session. Mentoring sessions often go by quickly, so focus at the beginning with top-of-mind questions.
  7. Notice what has heart and meaning for the mentee. By paying attention to the emotion and energy of the mentee, you will be able to observe what matters most to them, as well as where they may feel discouraged or overwhelmed.
  8. Tell your story. People often learn best through storytelling. If you have experiences related to the challenges faced by your mentee, check with them to see if they would like you to share your experience.
  9. Share the conversation rather than doing all the talking. Sometimes, mentors mistakenly believe that their job is mainly to impart wisdom and expertise. Make sure you have a dialogue with your mentee and ask questions.
  10. Set and honor boundaries. Mentoring relationships work best when each person knows what the expectations are. During the first session, establish how the mentoring relationship will be set up.
  11. Follow through on your commitments. Inevitably, you will find yourself volunteering the title of a book, a referral to one of your contacts, to review or pass on a resume, or some other small service to your mentee. Make note of your promise and make it a priority to follow through.
  12. Be encouraging and action oriented. Recognize that the problem isn't figuring out what to do, the problem is doing it!
  13. Give helpful feedback. Provide constructive feedback that is specific, descriptive, and nonjudgmental.
  14. Honor confidentiality. Conversations between mentor and mentee must be considered private.

Working With a Mentor

Having a mentor can help you learn how to operate in the world of work. Your mentor will connect you with people and give you the perspective you need to move ahead. Mentors may provide advice on how to handle situations and people; they will draw from their own body of experience to share insight, wisdom, and knowledge. They will support positive change in your life and will challenge your thinking, thereby expanding the possibilities for you.
However, you will not automatically receive these benefits of the mentoring relationship. As a mentee, the success of the mentoring relationship depends on you. You are the driver of your own development, so it is important for you to take the initiative of reaching out and asking questions to promote your growth. If you are serious about learning from your mentor, your frame of mind will be this: I am here to learn, and I am open to new ideas. I am responsible for my own life and for making my own development and career path

Tips for Mentees

  • Be prepared for your mentoring sessions.
  • Establish a mutually agreeable plan for mentoring sessions, including how much time each of you need if a session has to be postponed.
  • Focus on the relationship, rather than outcomes.
  • Ask direct questions about what you most want to know.
  • Practice learning from anyone.
  • Listen with an open mind and view suggestions or constructive criticism as a learning opportunity.
  • Provide context and brief updates to help your mentor understand you.
  • Respect your mentor's boundaries.
  • Follow up on agreements.
  • Say "thank you!"

Adapted from "Mentoring Relationships 101” Associations Now Magazine - Resources - ASAE: The Center for Association
Leadership. ASAE - Associations Now Magazine, June 2010. Web. 07 Apr. 2014.