No matter what functional area of business you’re in, having a mentor is important. Everyone will tell you that. You find out quickly you don’t know half as much as you thought you did. Finding someone to help guide you, offer advice, encourage you and listen will go a long way. The AMA Mentorship Program is a fantastic way to help you find that person. I had the privilege of being a mentee in the very first round of the program and below are my top 5 tips for a successful Mentorship Program experience.
1. Know Your Goals.
Are you looking to learn about a new industry? Excel in your current job? Get help networking? Think about why you’re joining the Mentorship Program and what you hope to get out of it before it starts. That will help you choose your mentor, focus your discussions and make sure the time and effort you both put in is maximized.
2. Find Ways to Add Value.
The benefits of the mentor/mentee relationship are weighted pretty heavily towards the mentee. That’s no secret. Most of the value a mentor will get is simple- the satisfaction from helping you. But try finding things you can offer them. Maybe there’s someone in your network they’d benefit from knowing. Have experience in an area they don’t, like social media? Offer to teach them everything you know.
3. Set a Schedule.
This is something I definitely could have done better. Mentors are busy people, both professionally and personally. So are you. Try to coordinate schedules and see when you’re both available to get together as early as possible.
4. Follow Up.
Things pop up. Follow up on your scheduled meetings the week of and day before. Be flexible and if plans fall through, try to get something else on the schedule right away to replace it. You don’t need hour long in-person meetings. You’ll be surprised how much you can get accomplished in a 15 minute phone call.
5. Be Honest.
The reason you get a mentor is to help guide you through your professional career and navigate the questions and situations you may not be certain about. Remember, this person isn’t your boss. You don’t need a filter when talking to them. The only way they’ll be able to help you reach your goals is if you communicate openly and honestly.
I went into this program knowing it was time for me to move on from my current job to something new. I knew I wanted to build a brand, but wasn’t sure how to go about that or where those opportunities may be. Luckily, I was paired with John Hambrick who helped school me on the branding world and steer me in the right direction to accomplish that goal. We attended events, met over coffee and chatted on the phone. The formal “Program” is coming to an end but I’ll be leaving with a life-long mentor, an amazing experience and will be starting a new job this week as the Growth Manager for a food-delivery startup called DoorDash that just launched operations in Chicago (Hungry? Give us a try!). I look forward to hearing more success stories from other participants and hopefully staying involved in the AMA Mentorship Program for years to come!