Some people have been asking me online how to be a good mentor. Here are some thoughts for all of you. 😀
Some mentees don’t listen, and are not willing to put in the work. Some of them will astound you and excel beyond your wildest dreams. The key is finding a good match for you, and for them.
It’s your job as a mentor to try to help your mentee any way you can. That can be through advice, loaning them a book, sharing resources, introducing them to people that can help them, referring them for a job (if appropriate) or other opportunities.
Example: I wrote an essay to explain to a conference why one of my mentees deserved a diversity grant. She has worked SO HARD to teach herself and change careers. She won the grant because of her hard work, AND my essay. It took me 30 minutes, and she benefited.
Example 2: I brainstormed talk ideas with a mentee, then she built an amazing proof of concept. I asked a conference that I was keynoting to book her, even though she’d never spoken before. She was AMAZING! Out of this world! I knew she would be good, but she was 10 times better than I would have dared to hope for.
Example 3: When I’m invited to speak somewhere but cannot make it, I ask if they would like me to recommend someone else. I have a list of people who are not well-known, but who are amazing. I always recommend one of them to take my place. I advocate for them.
Example 4: I asked a friend to let one of my mentees into his very expensive training for free, and he said yes. I let her stay in my hotel room with me so she could afford the trip. It cost me one favour and sharing my room to give her a huge leg up for her career.
I use the power and privileges of my current role to help others, and you can too. You may not even realize how much power you have until you start helping someone.
Sometimes it’s recommending or loaning someone the right book. Sometimes it’s about letting them have a place in your training, workshop, talk, or conference for free. Sometimes it’s helping them when they are stuck at work on a technical problem and you give them the answer. Maybe you will introduce them to the person who will hire them some day. It’s about helping however you can.
The key with mentoring is that they can trust you, and that you have their best interests at heart. It’s not about being perfect or knowing everything. It’s about your motivations.
Good luck folks!