As my young colleague and future PR guru, Austin Williams, wisely mentioned in a blog post last year, Find a mentor. I have to give that statement a ringing endorsement. Having a supportive mentor – someone who’ll act as a sounding board to your questions and give you unbiased advice – is a huge asset that shouldn’t be taken lightly.
The long and the short of it is that everyone is busy, but everyone also needs to stay fresh in their jobs. So, finding a willing mentor and carving out time to meet is a good way to help. Whose idea was it to say that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, anyway? Wrong, wrong, wrong.
I have a mentor. In fact, I’m lucky to be mentored by none other than our illustrious leader (and managing partner), Paul Forecki.
I was looking at my calendar last week and realized two things. First, my second anniversary at Voxus is this month. Second, I have a mentoring session with Paul just a couple of days later. So with my two-year milestone in mind (we playfully call it a Voxiversary), I got to thinking about what I can ask Paul. And that leads me to the list below. If you’re mentally preparing to meet your mentor, here are five questions that might help you make the most of your mentor’s time.
1. Do you belong to any professional organizations that have helped you in your career?
If your mentor is well connected, he or she may provide a few insights into the kinds of associations that will help you stay current with your industry. Some of these groups may be on LinkedIn, while others may offer regular meet-ups.
2. I have this challenge (juggling deadlines, finding a reliable vendor, coming up with ideas for a campaign, etc.). What would you do if you were me?
There’s no need to impress your mentor, so give him or her specific scenarios and ask for brutally honest opinions.
3. What kind of goals should I be setting for myself on a quarterly or yearly basis? Can you give me any examples?
It’s easy to fall into a rut if you’ve been doing something for a while, so asking this question helps to reset your expectations and look for new challenges. That’s a win for you and a win for your employer. It also shows your mentor that you’re serious about kaizen.
4. How do you stay organized? What does your typical day look like?
This is a softer question, but it definitely helps to give you some insight into how your mentor ticks, what keeps him or her up at night (that lovely old cliché), and what you might be able to learn from his or her experience.
5. Is there anything I can help you with?
The mentor-mentee relationship can be a two-way street. Helping your mentor not only shows that you’re invested in the relationship, it also exposes you to new challenges and make you more valuable as an employee.