How to be an unforgettable mentee — start with the end in mind

Stand out from the crowd and get a leg-up from the best in the business — here’s how

Lets face it — not everyone has a relative, parent or family friend they can call up and ask for advice or connections in the career they want to pursue. Thankfully, with amazing schemes like Connect Mentors helping to level the playing field, more people can pursue their passion with the help and guidance of a professional in their chosen industry. But it’s not simply a case of being matched with someone and suddenly you’re on the road to success. The mentor-mentee relationship can lead to incredible opportunities — but it’s a two-way street. Here’s how to make yours matter by being the ideal mentee.

Do your homework beforehand Like any kind of successful relationship, you need to make sure you’re compatible with your potential mentor, and ensure their values and passions align with yours. Completing your profile fully on the Connect Mentors website will lead to three potential mentor suggestions. Rather than just click on someone and hope for the best, do some background research on each one. Find out what projects they may have been involved with, what they’re passionate about and their career history. Reading articles they may have written or contributed to, their public social media posts can give you an idea of their personality and whether you think the two of you will get along.

Identify your goals Just meeting up for a chat every few weeks might not turn out to be the productive mentorship you might have hoped for. Your mentor might want to help you, but unless you’re clear and direct with them, they won’t know exactly what you need — it’s your responsibility to communicate this to them. Identifying three things you want to get out of the mentoring relationship, will allow them to support you in achieving those goals. Whether it’s confidence or network-building, financial advice or time-management, take some time to think about how you can get the most out of your mentor’s time.

Presentation is key Forget the Hollywood stereotype about a stubborn, awkward young student and a gruff yet inspiring teacher who pushes them forward. In real life, people rarely have the spare time or energy to coax people out of their shell, not least time-strapped businesspeople — even if they are your mentor. So go the extra mile if you want to impress them. You don’t have to be a finished version of the confident professional you one day aspire to be, but a “first draft” of it will suffice. Dressing smartly and appearing passionate, polite and inquisitive are good places to start, especially when you might have to present to clients or future employers further down the line. This will make your mentor more likely to invest their time in you and possibly help you land future opportunities.

Ask for feedback Although you and your mentor may get on well and enjoy each other’s company, you won’t benefit from them being nice all the time. Sometimes, you might need them to get a little tough to ensure you’re on the right track. Asking for their honest opinions about a piece of work, business idea, career strategy — or even the way you present yourself — might prove invaluable and save you a great deal of time and money in the long-run. Don’t take any constructive criticism to heart; they want to help you — not try and catch you out. And always ask for further advice if they spot potential problems or issues in anything you’ve asked them to feed back on.

Think about what you can do for them Your mentor spends the majority of their time in an often ego-driven work environment, dealing with demanding colleagues and clients. Mentoring you will allow them a chance to give something back and feel good about themselves. Ensuring this relationship is just as rewarding as them as it is for you will keep them enthused and allow you to get the best out of them. You can do this keeping them updated and in the loop with your progress; being punctual and reliable when arranging meetings; showing appreciation for their time and demonstrating how their input has made a difference in your career. Don’t think they’re too busy and important to care — they signed up to be a mentor for a reason!

Now you’ve got clued up, visit Connect Mentors and choose from a range of inspiring and successful mentors to help you on the next step of your journey.

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