You worked hard to find the right person to mentor you, so you should get the most out of your time with them. Whether it’s chosen or assigned, mentoring is game-changing professional development outside of your regular management. If you want to become one of the best mentees, then it is time to take the initiative and learn how to ace that first meeting.
Building a relationship
Mentors are your professional cheerleader and friend. So, the first meeting is a great time to get to know one another. Treat it like a coffee date with a friend. You swap stories about overcoming obstacles, imposter syndrome, or proud achievements. The more casual and comfortable you become, the easier it will be to communicate in the future.
Not everyone will expect the same thing from their mentor/mentee. Understanding what will be measured to judge each other’s accountability, improvement, and effort is essential for a lasting relationship. Also, consider discussing any boundaries. For example, someone who wants a more formal mentor/mentee relationship might limit conversations about work and not their personal lives.
Method of communication
Decide with your mentor what platforms you will use to communicate. Do you submit work to review through email or print it out for in-person meetings? If you have a question in-between meetings, can you text them?
Goals and topics
Your mentor could be the professional icon you want to learn everything from, but each meeting is a limited amount of time. Focus on specific topics or goals to get the most out of your relationship. You can always adjust over time if they change.
Agree upon a specific date, time, and place for the meeting. Consistency is the key to extensive improvement. The set time will also benefit you and your mentor if schedules become busy.
Create meeting agendas
Agendas will be your roadmap detailing what to cover at every meeting. Specify what topics to discuss, resources to review, and more. This ensures your mentor has time to prepare the necessary materials, and you know what to work on before every meeting. Remember to be kind to yourself when you can not accomplish everything you want. Agendas can change to reflect your needs.
Mentors to ask their mentee
- What goals do you want to achieve in this mentorship?
- What learning strategies work best for you?
- Who are you looking to connect with that I might know?
- Are there any skills you would like to learn from me?
Mentees to ask their mentor
- What expectations do you have for me?
- How do you measure your accountability?
- What resources (books, seminars, courses) do you suggest?
- What advice do you wish someone told you sooner?
Advice from an IAW mentor
“LaDonna Williams is a commissioned Notary Public, a Certified Notary Signing Agent, and Owner and Operator of Signing With Integrity, LLC. She is passionate about mentoring, training, and developing personnel at both operational and managerial levels to drive success in all business units. LaDonna is also IAW’s Chicago Local Chapter President.”
What is one thing most mentees don’t do but should do during the first meeting?
“Be clear about the support they seek. Do the work to identify what they’d like to gain from the mentor/mentee relationship. If nothing else, it should be the first goal in establishing what the relationship and support will be.”
How much should the mentee control vs. the mentor?
“I’d suggest an equal partnership. Find balance in what works best for both parties. In the event, the mentee needs a more aggressive approach for accountability’s sake that could be factored into the relationship. As a mentor, I would push for accountability, but my time is also valuable and should be respected.”
What advice would you give a first-time mentor/mentee?
“Ask for what you need from your mentor. You have selected someone you either admire, hold in high regard, or have been paired with because they’ve accomplished a similar goal/career path. Use them to get what you need for your next level. Allow yourself to be unmasked and grow from experiences other than your own.”