We’ve talked about how to get a mentor and the value of a mentor, but those parts are relatively easy compared to maintaining a mentor. Maintenance is a long-term commitment. You need to actively pursue the relationship to ensure there is connection between both parties. And continue to evaluate the relationship so both parties benefit. Here are 3 ways to maintain a mentor relationship:
- Set up recurring meetings to touchbase. It is the responsibility of the mentee to set up this meeting, as they typically benefit the most. This meeting can be 30 minutes or an hour, once a month or once a quarter - whatever cadence you feel is appropriate, go with that. Having a recurring meeting makes sure you have dedicated time to talk. Be cautious though - since there is always a “next meeting,” it can be easy to put off due to schedule conflicts. Be vigilant and hold that precious time to discuss issues and ask questions to your mentor. If you feel these recurring meetings are getting stagnant, mix it up and set one up after work at a bar over a drink or dinner.
- Stop by your mentor’s desk/office to have a casual, unscheduled conversation. This really helps get the relationship off the ground. By going out of your way to stop by and see how things are going or ask about their family, you are showing interest in them as a person. Not only will this make your connection stronger, but it also shows your mentor that you care about them and appreciate their time and the advice they have provided. In these casual conversations, be sure to share about your personal life as well. This will further develop your relationship.
- Provide value to your mentor. Your mentor provides you value through the advice they share, so find ways to make sure it is a two way street. One way to do this is to send your mentor an interesting article, which is a small action on your part to return value. An article can be on the topic of their area of work, or a personal interest they’ve shared, or even about their favorite sports team. The important thing about any mentor/mentee relationship is that both parties are invested. Providing value back to your mentor shows you are thinking of them and are putting in time to foster the relationship.
Those are 3 easy ways to maintain a mentor relationship. You don’t need to do all of them all the time - the only one that should be consistent is the recurring meeting. Otherwise, when you happen to be by their desk/office or come across an article of interest, think about your mentor. Don’t go out of your way to do these things - it will be obvious.
Don’t make the mentor relationship more complicated than it needs to be.