Making Mentorship Work | Finding Relationship Awesomeness

Mentorship was a hot topic at YNPN’s Turn It Up to 11 event last November and continues to be on the minds of our board as we look toward the future of YNPN and our own personal career paths. Just as YNPN looks to other organizations to show us next steps, we members can do the same in our personal lives and careers by choosing mentors who have collected knowledge, experience and finely honed talents we admire and hope to emulate in the future.

I have been surprised as the number of folks I meet that have never considered mentorship as a conscious practice in their personal development. I can tout the amazing gifts on both ends of the relationship from personal experience. Rather than convince you of the awesomeness of having a mentor, I’d like to give a few tips on best practices in the mentorship/protégé relationship and leave the finding of the awesomeness in the relationship up to you.

  • Know Your Needs: Before you go out and hit someone up to take you on, it is smart to do a personal assessment. THREE simple things to look for: 1) Find out where you are, 2) where you are going and 3) if it is where you want to go.
  • Set Goals: Take a look at your biggest needs and set goals that you can clearly articulate. Yes! There is room for creep, and being comfortable with “I don’t know” is one of the bonuses of these relationships. But having a few clear, basic goals will help you with choosing folks that can help you most.
  • Build a Range of Mentorship: A mix of casual and formal mentorship with a sprinkle of variety in network, age and experience ranges is part of a healthy professional diet. This includes taking on the role of mentoring yourself. You’ll have a broad support network that may serve you through unexpected turns in your career.

The final and most important consideration is to:

  • Let Go of the Idea of Your Mentor: Picking mentors that we admire for skills, connections, knowledge and experience we hope to achieve can sometimes mean we have a preconceived notion of what they can offer. My best experiences are ones where the mentor/protégé relationship can be reconsidered over time. Growth and relationship building can go both ways and the farther the relationships go beyond the idea of the mentor or position of the mentor the greater chance for a long term relationship.

Do you have a mentor? Are you a mentor? What recommendations do you have for making the most of this relationship?

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