If this is you — Congratulations! You’ve just been introduced to someone that could change your life.
It’s hard to overstate the impact a mentor can have on your career, your life and your mental health.
They can not only help with your known unknowns (the things you know you don’t know) but can also help you to find and solve the unknown unknowns (the things you had no idea about). This is where the magic really happens.
Before we get to that though, first things first.
If you are reading this because you’ve just been introduced to a mentor through Helen or Barry at Meet a Mentor then we must first manage your expectations.
Consider this the mentor matching equivalent of a blind date. Just like dating, a lot of mentoring comes down to chemistry. Neither side should feel under any obligation to force a relationship that isn’t there. Some introductions will result in long term relationships, some will lead to metaphorical marriages but many will be the mentoring equivalent of one night stands.
We believe the best way to approach a mentor-mentee relationship is for the mentee to take accountability for driving the relationship. First impressions are important, here’s our advice for how to start the relationship off on the right foot.
1. Be overly respectful, enthusiastic and grateful
It sounds obvious, but in our experience this advice is necessary. If you have been introduced to someone who doesn’t know you and yet is offering to help you, for FREE then the first thing to do is be very grateful. Genuinely grateful. Showing kindness, courtesy and gratitude is the best way to start.
Enthusiasm also helps. You should demonstrate this by writing swiftly to your mentor. Same day as the introduction if possible but definitely within 24 hours.
2. Ask the mentor what’s best for them
Where possible we would recommend face to face interaction, even if that’s just 5–10 minutes through zoom. Failing that a phone call. However, it’s worth noting that some mentors have made it clear to us that they prefer to have initial contact asynchronously, over email or slack. So don’t assume anything and ask the mentor what’s best for them.
Be respectful of your mentor’s time and wishes, make sure you check with them how they would like to engage.
3. Prepare your questions and let your mentor know what you want
If you’re looking for advice on a specific topic, let them know. If you’re looking for guidance on planning your career journey, let them know. If you don’t yet know exactly what help you need, that’s fine… but let them know. They will know a bit about you already, but you should be prepared to start the conversation by saying something like “Should I tell you why I signed up for a mentor?” Allow them an easy opt-out at any point.
Beyond that make sure you have a few key questions prepared around your subject. It can be difficult to get those questions, so if you need help with this part then let Barry or Helen know. We have a list of questions for any situation.
We are here to support you every step of the way. If you don’t think it’s going to plan, let us know and we can organise alternative introductions and let your mentor know.
If you have arrived here and have not yet met a Mentor, and would like to know more then:
Meet-a-Mentor is a community founded and run by RecWorks Ltd that connects members from the UK tech industry. We run an active Slack group and meet-ups as well as offer 1–2–1 mentorship opportunities. You can find out more here.
If you have any questions feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or Helen Lewis (our Meet-a-Mentor Coordinator) at email@example.com.