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The Dos and Don’ts of Engaging With Your Mentor

People tend to think that mentorships are only good for one reason: to give up-and-coming professionals a chance to advance in their career — but that’s not always the case. In some of the best mentoring relationships, the mentor can often end up learning just as much as the mentee. Because of this, it’s important for you as a mentee to pay attention to the way you engage with your mentor. Do you respect their boundaries? Are you present in all of your interactions? Do you ask follow-up questions that test you and your mentor’s knowledge? 

Paying attention to these little details can be a factor that determines whether or not your relationship is built to last. As a mentee, you must remember that a mentorship is a two-way street. Just like any other relationship, it can fall apart if you don’t nurture and care for it. In order to ensure your mentorship is mutually beneficial, here are some dos and don’ts to keep in mind as you start engaging with mentors through LevelNext. 

DO pre-prep and set goals

Your mentor is taking precious time out of their busy schedule to help you succeed in your career, so the least you can do is come to your meetings prepared. Before you start talking with your mentor on a regular basis, make sure you already have clear expectations and goals in your mind for what you want to get out of this experience. That way, you can ensure every meeting is as productive as possible. 

DON’T disrespect your mentor’s time 

You wouldn’t want your boss calling you after hours to talk about work, so why should your mentor? It’s important to remember that your mentor has a life of their own. They are not on call for you 24/7. As you begin forming new relationships with industry experts, it would be wise for both of you to set boundaries early on for how much time you’re willing to commit. This will help create a relationship where everyone feels like they are being treated with respect.

DO show appreciation 

At the end of the day, mentors (just like everyone else) love being appreciated — and the best way to show appreciation is through active listening. Make sure you are paying attention and taking notes whenever your mentor is giving you advice. Sure, you may not end up applying everything they say to your career specifically. However, by listening with an open mind, you will show your mentor how much you appreciate their insight and, as a result, foster a stronger, healthier mentoring relationship.

DON’T take advice for granted 

Sometimes it’s hard to admit when we’re wrong — but that’s what being a mentee is all about. In order to get the most out of your mentorship, you need to be able to swallow your pride and give your mentor the freedom to guide you. It can be a natural instinct to speak up to defend yourself, offer an explanation, or argue with your mentor when receiving feedback or criticism. However, this will only hurt your relationship in the long run. 

DO get to know your mentor

Just because a person is your mentor doesn’t mean they can’t also be your friend. Sometimes, the best mentorships are born when both parties are able to peel back the formal, professional layers and get to know each other on a deeper level. Don’t be afraid to express interest in your mentor’s life outside of their career. Establishing that personal connection can be important (and often the most rewarding part) in a mentoring relationship. 

DON’T be too personal 

While it’s good to be personable in your mentoring relationship, you should also avoid being too personal. Remember, you’re talking to your mentor — not your therapist. Try to refrain from involving your mentor too much in unrelated personal matters. At the end of the day, their primary objective is to help you in your career. You should also be sensitive to their privacy when asking them personal questions. Surface-level topics revolving around hobbies or interests are most likely safe to bring up. However, it’s always a good idea to read your mentor’s body language in order to gauge whether or not they are comfortable disclosing certain personal information.

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