I do a lot of thinking about mentoring. One reason is because mentors have changed my life and I am grateful for them. Another reason is that a lot of my consulting work is helping companies develop successful mentoring programs.

So for those who have asked over the years, and those who haven’t yet, here are my tips for making the most of your mentoring relationships.

Tip #1
Self-assess.  Ask yourself, “What skills or knowledge do I need to get where I want to go?”

Tip #2
Put your mentoring goals in writing. From my experience and what the research says, the best predictor of success for a mentoring partnership is that the protégé put clear goals in writing.

Tip #3
Decide together how the mentoring relationship will work – like how often you will meet and where.

Tip #4
Commit the time.  Don’t give up if the chemistry doesn’t feel right at the first meeting.

Tip #5
Get to know each other on a personal level.  Discuss your backgrounds, interests, career histories, and organizations.

Tip #6
Keep confidences.  Nothing kills trust in a mentoring relationship faster than a breach of confidence.

Tip #7
Be sensitive to cultural and gender differences.

Tip #8
Understand and plan for the phases of a mentoring relationship.  Think now about evaluation and closure.

Tip #9
Whether you are a mentor or a protégé, mentoring is about learning. Keep a journal.

Tip #10
You don’t need a single mentor who you keep throughout your career.  What you need is a mind-set that allows you to learn from those around you, no matter who they are.  To get ahead, create your own multitalented “board of advisors.”

Which tip do you like best AND who was a person who inspired you or made a difference in your life? Post your comments below and I’ll do my best to respond to you personally.

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