Mentorship 101

If you have considered being mentored and you would like to try it this year, how do you go about it? What are the basics of mentorship? And how do you prepare to meet with your mentor?

basics of mentorship

What are the basics of mentorship?

  • What is a mentor? A mentor is someone who knows more than you in a particular area and can offer you advice and perspective.
  • What areas should a mentor help you with? As a general rule, each mentor should help you in one particular area (their area of strength and previous success). It is rare to find a mentor that excels in all areas of life. For example, you may wish to have a business mentor, a spiritual mentor, a writing mentor, and/or a public speaking mentor, etc.
  • How long should you be mentored? A mentorship relationship should not last forever.  Communicate with that person something like, “Would you consider mentoring me once a month for the next 6 months?” (or a shorter time)  If it is working for both of you, then you can extend it.
  • Do mentors differ from coaches or consultants? Yes. While the three roles intersect, there are differences between coaches, mentors, and consultants. Please refer to this previous blog post for further reading. In summary, a professionally trained coach is someone who is an expert at helping you tease out what you would like to do and dig deeper within your own psyche to find solutions for issues. A mentor is usually not a trained individual; he is someone who simply has wisdom because of his life journey. A consultant is someone who has a specific technical knowledge in your field of work.
  • Should a mentor be older than you? A mentor does not have to be 20 years older than you. I am 38 (as of last week). I have a writing mentor who is in his early 50’s that I talk to once a month, a life mentor in his mid 50’s that I talk to once a week, and a branding mentor who is 30 that I talk to 3 times a year.  One of my dreams is to one day start a K-12 school. A few days ago I talked to a lady by phone who started a school 30 years ago. I told her, “I would love to be mentored by you for a few months if at all possible. Can we meet in person?” She is 62. So age is not an issue, it’s the life experience in the area you are being mentored that should interest you most.
  • How do you find a mentor? First, set a budget for it. Sometimes your employer may pitch in if they are interested in your growth. Then, start somewhere in your circles of friends and acquaintances. If you are new at being mentored, it is hard to predict what will work for you, so do not begin by making a huge commitment. You may even ask them to mentor you only one or two times to start with. Having had mentors for several years, I am always on the lookout for a potential mentor. So make it a habit to be looking. And be gutsy: just ask. 
  • Should you pay your mentor? Yes. I never ask someone to mentor me if it is not within my budget to pay them something for their time. You should always inquire, “How much would you like to be compensated for mentoring me?” Don’t negotiate with them. If you can’t afford them, then move on. Often people you ask may not have mentored someone before and don’t have a set price. In that case, ask them to think about it and let you know. If they insist that they do not want to be paid, then I would ask them often if they are still willing to do it without charging you. The bottom line is you want to value them. Don’t be cheap. If you are not ready to pay for your growth, then wait until you are prepared to make the investment. Of course, unless we’ve received a big inheritance or won the lottery, most of us struggle to make an income. And our income fluctuates at various points in our lives. So be wise about spending your hard-earned money. Remember to set aside a portion of what you make for your own growth, some of which can be allocated for mentorship.

In the next blog I will share with you questions you should ask your mentor. If this post was helpful to you, Twitter_logo_blue it.

Question: If you have been mentored by others, what can you share about mentorship that I did not include? Please share your response in the comments below.

Your friend,
Wes Saade MD Signature

For Further Reading:

What Is Your Growth Plan for 2013? (Part V: Mentors & Coaches)

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