How to Be a Professional Mentor
Interested in becoming a professional mentor? We've put together the following guidance on how to mentor, the ways in which you can mentor and how you can find a mentee.
There’s a great saying from the wonderful musician Phil Collins – “In learning we teach and in teaching we learn.” This sums up perfectly just one of the many benefits to mentoring. If you’ve never tried mentoring before, we would encourage you to give it a go. You don’t have to commit to a set number of hours and there’s no course required. All you need to become a mentor is the eagerness to help someone else and the knowledge to be able to do so. In this age of advanced science, technology and communication, we are learning more, faster. And we all have something we can give back. So, whether you’ve been working for two years or twenty years, you will have knowledge and insight into your profession that a student, graduate or another professional could likely benefit from.
Where can I find a mentee?So, you’ve decided that you would like to mentor people. The next question is, where can you find an individual interested in learning and who will benefit from the knowledge you have? Well, there are a few places to go and things you can do, to find the right people. First and foremost, network. Networking is crucial to both business and career success but also to finding prospective mentees. If you are looking for advice on networking, we’ve collated an ultimate guide to professional networking, what it is, how to go about it and the best places to go for networking. Secondly, activate your existing network and make them aware that you are keen to mentor individuals. By this we mean sharing updates on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter expressing an interest in mentoring, talking with colleagues and friends and generally getting the word out there to your existing address book, asking them to let you know of mentoring opportunities. Another good way to find prospective mentees is through existing groups you may be a member of. These could be networking groups, diversity organisations, members clubs or industry meetups. These types of groups often have existing mentoring schemes and/or actively promote mentoring. So, enquire and if they don’t already have a mentoring scheme then it is worth asking them if they can assist you in finding a mentor. Finally, when PushFar launches early in 2019, you will be able to find a mentee easily, using our mentor matching technology. Make sure you pre-register for PushFar already, to receive updates of our progress and be the first to know when we launch.
How can I mentor effectively?Making sure that you are offering the right mentoring and guidance is very important. Mentoring, when done well, can be extremely empowering and rewarding. Effective mentoring starts with expectation setting. When entering a mentoring partnership, make sure you set out expectations on both sides and answer the following questions:
- What are you looking for help for, from me?
- How much time and how regularly should we meet or speak?
- How long should the mentoring relationship last for?
When you know the answers to these three questions, you should have a good understanding of what your mentee expects from you, as their mentor and know whether you feel able to commit to what they are looking for, as well as feeling confident in what you can offer in support to them too. It’s far better to set the expectations at the start of a mentoring relationship, rather than further down the line realising that expectations and realities are not aligned.
How can I track mentoring progress?At the start of a partnership with your mentee, you might want to outline a few choice areas in which your mentee is looking for help. It might be that your mentee wants support on a specific topic area or challenging aspect of their career, such as job interview training or a conflict in the workplace. Or, it could be that your mentee is looking for general guidance and advice on career progression within an industry. Whatever they are looking for support on, make sure you both know this at the start of the partnership. You can then check-in with your mentee on a regular basis and see whether the support that they are seeking is being effectively answered and met.
What mentoring should I provide?Mentoring support comes in all shapes and sizes. As we’ve said, there’s no clear or set rule to mentoring and how it should be conducted. Generally, we would advise mentors to listen first, then ask questions and finally offer advice. It’s important that your mentee speaks first and asks for your support. We know that as a mentor you will have a lot of advice, wisdom and knowledge that you can impart upon them but it’s important not to overwhelm a mentee. It could be that they have specific areas of support that they are looking for. So, let your mentee talk to you and be a good listener, then ask follow-up questions and finally offer your support and advice about the specifics. You can offer mentoring support in person, over the phone, on a video call or over email. Ask your mentee what they feel most comfortable with and what is realistically going to be easiest for you both.