Make the most out of that first meeting by going in prepared…
Once you’ve been matched up with a mentor, you’re a step closer on the path to your dream career. But finding the right person is just the beginning. Having a mentor can be an invaluable source of advice, support and can possibly even lead to job opportunities, so you need to make the most of the connection. Although your first meeting will probably end up being more of an informal chat, you still need to ensure you steer the conversation to make the most of their skills and expertise. It also lets your mentor know that you’re focused and want to get ahead. With that in mind, here are five questions that you can weave into the discussion for that first meeting.
“How did you get into your particular field?”
This all-important question can allow your mentor to elaborate on why their career path was for them and offer advice on how you can achieve similar success. After all, this is primarily why you’ve arranged to meet with them. Also, they will always appreciate you taking an interest in their career — it shows that you’re keen to be mentored by them, and will encourage them to want to help you get a step on the ladder.
“What were your biggest challenges when starting out?”
This is a good way of learning to spot and prevent common pitfalls in your own line of work, whether it’s being proactive when it comes to networking; self-promotion, organisation and budgeting skills; or managing your time and fellow colleagues wisely. Your mentor might have had to learn these things the hard way, but you don’t have to!
“Do you have any books that you would recommend I read?”
Switching up your reading matter is a good way to broaden your horizons, and your mentor is best placed to point you towards interesting, insightful and useful books that can develop both your career and your mind. It can also provide you and your mentor with something to discuss when you next meet up. Reading a book they’ve recommended will also show them that you’ve taken their advice and opinions on board, which will definitely win you brownie points.
“Are there any professional organisations you suggest I join?”
Going to the right conferences and trade events are key when it comes to networking and raising your profile — your mentor can point you in the right direction when it comes to the ones that are most useful and relevant. They might also recommend joining professional bodies whose aim is to boost diversity in the industry if that applies to you (e.g. “Women in Technology”), as alongside your mentor they can also provide support and advise as necessary.
“How do you approach risk-taking?”
Taking risks is a key component of success, and at certain points along your career path you will be required to make snap decisions that could be incredibly rewarding — or costly. You might decide to quit your 9–5 and set up on your own, which is the biggest risk any professional can take. Your mentor will definitely have taken similar risks themselves at certain points, and can advise on when to know whether a risk is worth taking and how to minimise any negative fall out.
Now you’re armed with the right questions, it’s time to get paired up with the right professional. Connect Mentors have a diverse range of mentors keen to offer their skills and expertise. Find the right one for you by clicking here.