How to be a Master Mentor
To mentor or to be mentored… That is the question. Last year, I signed up for the New York Women in Communications (NYWICI) mentorship program. And when offered the opportunity to mentor or be mentored, I chose both! Here are some tips that I learned from my experience in the NYWICI mentorship program.
Mentorship should be a mutually beneficial relationship. Never underestimate your mentee. Focus on motivating and mentoring your mentee and you might just learn something in return!
Communication is key in any relationship. How many times have you heard that one? Although it may seem like a cliche, it’s important to have regular touchpoints with your mentor or mentee as much as possible. Schedule a weekly or biweekly call, to ensure that you’re both always caught up on what’s going on at work and maybe even school.
We’re only human! It’s not possible to remember every single detail about someone else’s life, let alone managing a couple of mentees. Take notes after each conversation, so that you remember to follow up on these talking points, during your next conversation. For example, one of my mentees not only shared with me the projects she was taking on at work, but also her research for school. When we had our calls and in-person meetups for dinner, I would remember to check the status of that project at work or ask how that research paper was coming along. This not only demonstrates what a detail-oriented mentor you are, but it also shows that you care about what’s going on with them and are always listening. Taking notes will help you be prepared with talking points, so that all of your conversations are meaningful and productive.
If you want take the last section a step further, share all the resources necessary with your mentees, especially if it’s relevant to a recent conversation. This can be tips for updating their LinkedIn, best practices for creating an effective email signature block, how to create their online portfolio, good places to look for internships and jobs, maybe even connecting them with people from your own professional network.
Ok, so not literally. But, you should always make time to meet with your mentor or mentee in person if possible. I stay organized by sending out calendar invites to me mentees with a catchy title like Coffee & Chat or Careers & Cocktails (assuming he or she is of age to drink). In-person discussions can help your mentee shake any nerves or social anxieties that they may have, by practicing with you.
Not only did I mentor a few young professionals at the same time, I also introduced them to each other. This was great for my mentees to learn how to network and meet other professionals. I always share any networking events that come my way. And sometimes I even host my own networking events, which are usually just a quick happy hour after work for my mentees, friends, and colleagues to meet new people and connect with like-minded professionals.
This might be really important for mentees that are just starting their first job or internship. Some mentees can need more guidance than others. Try your best to make yourself available, not just for scheduled calls, but when something unexpectedly pops up. Maybe your mentee had one too many drinks at a work happy hour and needs help with social recovery first thing in the morning. Or maybe he or she might need some advice on an urgent project at work, stressing out over a tight deadline. We’ve all been there, right? But, maybe a recent college grad hasn’t yet. Stress and project management tips will probably do the trick.
— Bianca Reyes