How to be a good mentee

If you are offered a mentoring session you want to take maximum advantage of the opportunity. Here’s some tips:

  1. Be prepared. If you have a presentation or demo, rehearse it and make sure it works before you come to the session. Bring any necessary adapters you may need to hook up your laptop or tablet to a projector or large screen TV. If necessary call ahead to find out what type of adapter you will need. It always helps to get there early so your equipment is working when the meeting starts.
  2. Mind the time. Mentors and entrepreneurs can get excited and easily spend a lot of time on a single issue. Know what you want to get out of the session and make sure you spend the time on the issues you want to address.
  3. Take notes. MIT VMS is very wise in requiring mentees to write up a meeting summary and email it to the office. It then goes out to the mentors and is stored online for future reference.
  4. Keep in mind mentoring is an educational experience. You’re there to learn, but mentors also want to learn: about you, your product or service, and how they can best help you.
  5. If you are bringing others to the meeting prep them on their role and the objectives of the meeting so they get the most out of it and contribute appropriately.
  6. Check out the mentors in advance.While everyone introduces themselves at mentor meetings, some mentors do a better job than others. LinkedIn can help you understand the experience and expertise of your mentors.
  7. Remember, mentors are advisors. It’s your company and you make the final decisions. Our job is to give you feedback, perspective, options, and the benefit of our experience.
  8. Don’t be defensive. (And I find very few entrepreneurs are.) Mentors may well challenge your assumptions and play devil’s advocate. It’s for your benefit, don’t take constructive criticism personally.
  9. Do your homework! Most mentoring sessions that go well end up with a homework assignment for the mentee(s). Don’t ask for another meeting without having completed your assignment. Exceeding expectations is highly recommended.
  10. Don’t be afraid to pull the plug. Sometimes mentees aren’t ready for mentoring, sometimes the mentors don’t have the right background to help you. Don’t hesitate to cut the meeting short, in a polite way. Time is precious to everyone and mentors will appreciate an entrepreneur smart enough to recognize that it’s not a fit.
  11. Follow up on referrals. Often mentors will refer entrepreneurs to one or more of their contacts they believe can be helpful. Make sure to follow up on these opportunities and let the mentor know if the contact was helpful.

 

 

Author: Mentorphile

Mentor, coach, and advisor to entrepreneurs, small businesses, and non-profit organizations. General manager with significant experience in both for-profit and non-profit organizations. Focus on media and information. On founding team of four venture-backed companies. Currently Chairman of Popsleuth, Inc., maker of the Endorfyn app for keeping fans updated on new stuff from their favorite artists.

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