One of the greatest gifts we can offer people is our time. Being a mentor is extremely rewarding as you can help support others and build a relationship based on trust and value. BNI is a great opportunity to meet with professionals, offer advice and guidance, and it often lends the chance for mentorship. So, today, let’s discuss some ways that you can be a great mentor.
Build a strong foundation
Any relationship of value is built on mutual respect and support. You can accomplish this by demonstrating genuine interest in the success and well-being of your mentee and establish open and honest communication. Find ways that you can help, in a constructive manner, while also allowing space for them to voice their ideas, concerns, and questions.
It is key to set clear expectations on what a mentoring relationship looks like right from the start. The mentee should provide clear goals to work toward for the experience to be beneficial. Understand why this person selected you, and what they want from the experience. You want to ensure you are both striving to achieve the same objective(s).
Be a good listener
You have a vast amount of knowledge to share. While this is important, it is also key to practice active listening. Often, mentors are more interested in talking than they are listening. Don’t make this mistake! Ask questions, don’t interrupt, and ensure that you don’t overwhelm your mentee with your own ideas, thoughts, and advice. The better you get to know them, the more successful your relationship will be.
Provide feedback in a constructive and encouraging manner. Ensure that you offer areas for improvement when needed but be respectful. Also, when offering suggestions, pay attention to the strengths of the mentee as well. Share your own experiences, and what you learned to give insight and perspective.
Encourage your mentee to provide solutions and make decisions on their own. While you might want to offer advice, it is also key to allow the mentee to learn from their own experiences. Be there to guide and support but allow space for them to grow and succeed independently.
You want your mentee to have access to you when needed. While you aren’t expected to be always “on call,” be sure to respond to questions or concerns in a timely fashion. If you make a commitment, follow through and stand by your word.
As a mentor, provide your mentee access to opportunities and resources that will benefit their journey. From books to networking events, include your mentee in activities that you feel will benefit their growth.
Enjoy the chance to guide and help someone on their personal or professional journey. A relationship built on mutual respect will likely lead to a long-lasting friendship, so use your opportunity as a mentor to further your network and learn from the experience.
As a mentor, you don’t need to have the answers to everything! Be supportive and empowering and both you and your mentee will walk away from the experience as stronger individuals.