Mentoring 101: Our 12 Top Tips For New Mentees

In this article, we share 12 of our top tips for new mentees to help them go further in their career. Written by Simon Brown.

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So you're interested in getting a mentor to help you with your personal development and your career.

That’s great. There is really strong evidence that having a mentor who has the right knowledge, experience, and network of contacts in the kind of work you are looking for will really help you with your career planning.

First of all, help yourself by getting properly prepared.

Here are some top tips to impress your prospective mentors:

1. Write a short profile about yourself on PushFar – enough to show what you are doing now, what your career-related interests are, and what help you would be looking for from a mentor. This will give a good sign of interest when prospective mentors read your profile. Think about this like an elevator pitch about yourself. Your aim is to get them to think “ - ah yes this person sounds motivated, and someone I could help and would want to help”. Bear in mind that mentors are volunteers who freely give up their time and will want to spend that time with someone who is serious about the mentoring process and prepared to invest in planning and preparation.

2. Add a head and shoulders photograph to your profile. This is how you will want to appear when you are on a video call or in a job interview. Evidence shows for example that on LinkedIn recruiters and interviewers are 80% more likely to want to set up a meeting with a human whose face and shoulders they can see rather than a silhouette, a blank space, a photo of a dog or cat or a long distance shot of someone on the beach.

3. Take the initiative to search for a mentor using the search function on PushFar where you can identify function, role, location of mentors, or where you can choose from 5 shortlisted mentors established by the algorithm in PushFar matching your details and your wants with the details and offers of the mentor. It's about exchanging wants and offers to find a good potential mentoring match. So the more detail you have placed in your profile in points 1 and 2 above (and hopefully the mentors have done the same with their profile) the closer the match is likely to be.

4. It's ok to have a one-off introductory meeting to check whether you and the prospective mentor would like to work together, before committing to a series of meetings. Invite the mentor to a 30-minute introductory meeting where you each share a bit about yourself and explain what you are looking for (exchanging wants and offers).

5. Use PushFar video for the meeting if possible – it's already in the PushFar system which both you and the mentor have access to and it saves going out of the PushFar system to use other video meetings platforms such as Zoom, MS Teams or Google Meet - that the other person, your prospective mentor, may not have access to. You also get points for sending an invite to a meeting in PushFar and you will be able to track over time how many mentoring meetings you have had.

Please note however that some organisations have IT firewalls which prevent the use of PushFar video meetings and only allow the use of the chosen video meeting preference of that organisation. So if in doubt use your personal email and PC rather than a company or organisation one. Please also note that PushFar video does not allow the recording of meetings to protect both parties from a GDPR perspective. Zoom and MS Teams do allow meetings to be recorded but both parties should agree to permit the use of this before recording takes place.

6. Have a broad idea of what you want to be doing in your career in 1 or 2 years’ time. It’s a kind of target or goal. If you don’t have something to aim for, and you cannot describe to the mentor what that is, it is unlikely you will get value from your mentoring meetings – and you can't score goals if you (and your mentor) don’t know where the goal posts are!

Give a broad explanation of your goal(s) in your first meeting with the mentor as this will give them a clue as to whether or not they can really help you on your career journey. It could make the difference between having only one meeting or more with the mentor. Your mentor if chosen and choosing to work with you will help you to shape your SMART goals over time in the next meetings.

7. Attend the mentoring meeting on time and give full attention to your mentor to show that you are serious and interested in potentially working with them. Arriving 5-10 minutes late, not showing up, allowing numerous interruptions, having loud background noises, or talking to someone else on the phone when the meeting has started shows disrespect for the mentor.

This may sound obvious and crazy but believe me in my time as a mentor I have at times been kept waiting whilst the mentee is busy doing other things, or when background noises drown out any chance of a reasonable conversation. It doesn’t make the mentor keen to give up their time again and again when this happens. Those meetings usually end up as one-off meetings.

8. At the end of the meeting, thank the mentor for their time and any advice they shared with you during that first meeting. If you would like to work with them after finding out a bit more about them - it’s a two-way interview after all – then tell them so and respect the fact that they may want to reflect before saying “it’s a yes from me too”. So, a follow-up message is fine for this. No need to commit then and there.

9. If the mentor is not the right fit for you – be honest, be polite and thank them but express you are looking for someone who more closely can offer support to meet your immediate needs. If they are the right fit, and you both agree, then set aside regular times to meet. A recommendation would be to meet for one hour once per month, ideally at a similar time which can be remembered as an agreed routine.

10. Where possible, schedule ahead into the calendar the first 3 or 4 meetings so that together you can gain momentum and make progress. Long gaps between meetings will lose continuity and dilute commitment to the task and the targets. Over time things will get forgotten if the meetings are infrequent and equally do devote a full hour to each meeting – a snatched 15 or 30 minutes whilst eating lunch for example is not sufficient to have any meaningful discussion.

11. If you have read this far and are questioning, why do we need this structure and why do I need to show respect for the mentor, do note and remember that your mentor, if chosen well by you, is the one who has the knowledge and experience and skills that you need to learn and have transferred to you. Also, they are probably well-networked and can introduce you to other people who could positively influence your career path.

12.  Remember, it’s your career and it's therefore your agenda to make the meetings purposeful. So, it’s worth investing time and giving good attention to keep this mentoring relationship alive and create a mutual willingness to gain and share learnings together in a professional way. Don’t just sit back and expect the mentor to do all the work.

Now you are ready to make the most of a mentoring relationship, it’s time to find success in your mentoring with PushFar. Let us know how it goes for you!

Simon Brown – January 2023

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