Mentorship is like having a real-life Yoda or Jedi master to guide you on your personal and professional adventures. When I was starting WIT, I relied so much on my mentor Ed DeRoche. He provided me with great insights into my “Whatever It Takes” program. I actually saved the first curriculum draft he reviewed - which is covered in red pen edits! My mentorship relationship with Ed is something I continue to be grateful for over a decade later.
Now the tables have turned a bit and while I am still checking in with my mentors, I’m often on the receiving end of people reaching out to me asking me to mentor them. Most of the requests come from teens or young adults in their 20s. Many requests come from people I’ve never met and some of them set up phone calls, but then never call, or show up late to a zoom appointment.
Since I know finding a great mentor can be incredibly valuable, I’ve put together a checklist for you so that you don’t make some of the common mistakes I’ve seen:
Know What You Want
You’re ready to find a mentor, but before you start your quest, figure out what you want. What do you dream of achieving? Whether it's mastering coding or becoming a rockstar in marketing, knowing your goals will help you find a mentor who's perfect for you. Entrepreneur and public speaker Gigi Robinson shares this tip, “I think that the most important thing if you are someone seeking a mentor would be to constantly research different people in your field of interest. I recommend also looking at different articles and the different job histories of the person you want to ask to learn from - people always appreciate when you do your best to learn about them before reaching out to them.”
Show Some R-E-S-P-E-C-T
You’ve sent your potential mentor a request to meet and they have said, “yes!”. This is when your work really starts. At WIT we have a WIT Tip - “Make An Impression”. It’s the reminder to take steps that will help you stand out from the crowd. When it comes to prepping for your first meeting with this mentor, there are a few things you can do that will help you make a great impression:
Send a reminder email prior to the call/meet-up
In this email you can share your enthusiasm, reminder of time/date and if you have a specific question you plan on asking them you can include it in this email
“I’m looking forward to chatting with you about ________”
Show up on time
Get on the zoom 2 min early. Show up to the coffee shop 5 minutes early. Don’t make them wait for you.
Do your research
There have been so many meetings I’ve shown up to and the first question is “So tell me about WIT.” URGH. That’s not the way to kick-off a meeting. Instead do your research ahead of time and come with a more thoughtful question - “I saw online that WIT is doing ________, how did you land that partnership?”
Write a Thank You note
If you really want to stand out, mail a thank you note. If you don’t do that at least send a thank you email within 24 hours of the meeting.
Congrats you’ve had your first meeting and it went great! Now what?! I’m sure during the meeting your potential mentor suggested some next steps for you. Go do them.
A mentor will want to continue helping you and meeting with you if you demonstrate follow through. Personally, I won’t take another meeting until the person has shared that they have taken action on the things we chatted about in the first meeting. I know I’m not the only one who has this approach - my own mentors do this with me!
Mentorship is an epic adventure that can level up your life. Whether you're seeking a mentor or offering your guidance, remember that mentorship is built on trust, respect, and shared goals. I’m so grateful for all my mentees have taught me. That’s the best thing about a valuable mentorship relationship - it gets to be a win for all involved.