In the first two parts of this series, we shared how mom entrepreneurs could benefit from working with a mentor and gave some tips on selecting the right mentor for you. In this final post, we will go over the best ways to get the most out of your mentoring relationship.
So, you’ve made the decision to work with a business mentor. Congratulations! That is the biggest step. Then, you researched your options and signed up for a program or asked someone you know to become your trusted business advisor. Now what? The purpose of having a mentor is to help you become a better businessperson. No matter how much or little experience or knowledge you have, your mentor is there to make you even better. Follow these five strategies for making the mentorship relationship work for you.
1. Determine your goals
Before you even have your first conversation, think about why you want a mentor and what you are hoping to achieve from the relationship. Your mentor is there for YOU, not working your business. He or she will not be creating the strategy or telling you what to do next. She will be answering your questions and offering guidance. It’s up to you to determine what type of guidance you want. You’ll be the most successful if you start with the end in mind.
2. Set expectations
One of the first things you should do with your mentor in very first meeting is talk about what your relationship will look like and what you are asking him or her to do. It is reasonable for you to expect your mentor to keep your conversations confidential, for example. You may also decide if you will meet regularly face-to-face or if you want to reach out via email when you have a question. Perhaps you would like to have your mentor bring you to a networking meeting to introduce you to his or her contacts. Talking about it in the beginning will avoid confusion or disappointment down the road.
3. Create a schedule
Once you have determined what you want to achieve and what you can expect from your mentor, set up a schedule and stick to it. Perhaps you want to meet once a month or quarterly. Make this the one meeting you never reschedule, no matter what. By honoring your commitment to your mentor you are saying you respect her time and value the guidance she is giving you. It also says you are honoring the commitment you made to yourself and your business and are willing to do what it takes to make it successful.
4. Come prepared, yet be flexible
Know what you would like to talk about with your mentor before each meeting. There is nothing worse than a meeting between two busy people sitting in silence. It’s a good idea to have some questions prepared ahead of time, but be open to where the conversation goes. Even if your conversation takes a turn and goes off on a tangent, at least you will have a good starting place and there can be wisdom in those tangents. Your mentor can best help you if she knows what you want to learn.
What’s the ROI? Remember that time is money. You calculate the return on investment for other aspects of your business and this should be no different. As your meetings go on, evaluate if your mentorship is meeting your expectations. Give it some time, work on it, and every so often ask yourself how it is going. You are investing your time and energy, can you see the value returning to your business? As a busy mom and entrepreneur you don’t have time to waste on something that is not going to help you or your business. If it’s truly not working it’s ok to graciously say thank you and move on.
Above all, be a good mentee. Ask for what you need, honor your commitment, be present and be open. And, don’t forget to be appreciative! Say thank you and let your mentor know that you are grateful for his or her help.
How do you connect with your mentor? Share your tips in the comment section below.