I personally have 12 mentors in my life. Each mentor is there for a different purpose. I have my public speaking mentors who help me think through strategies on how to win a contest, who help me tap into my inner emotional voice for personal stories, who help me with better word choices, and who help me to be funny. I have mentors in the workplace who are my sounding board, “venting” sponge, and vision guide. I have mentors in the industry from whom I getfrom whom I get career guidance.
In this workshop, I demystify what mentorship is, different types of mentors, and tips on finding and keeping mentors. Here are a few key highlights:
There are five types of mentors:
- the master of craft (sounding board)
- the champion of your cause (or sponsor),
- the co-pilot (someone who listens to you vent)
- the anchor (your confidant)
- the reverse mentor, who can give feedback on things that you are working on (i.e. leadership)
Many attendees mentioned that they are looking for #1 and #2 types of mentors. We often find it hard to find sponsors. One of the tricks that we shared is to give a lot to your potential sponsor, and you may see the reciprocation.
Tips of Mentorships:
- Have different mentors for different purposes
- Articulate your goals
- Come to the meeting prepared
- Ask what can’t be googled
- Be honest
- Provide reflection on learnings
- Say thank you!
- Give generously to your mentors
During this portion of the workshop, many shared that they need to work on #1, #2, and #6. For those who have experience going into a mentorship meeting, the mentor kept on talking about himself/herself, it’s important to articulate the goals of the meeting. Send your mentor an email beforehand, talk about the goals at the beginning of the meeting, and gently remind the mentor about the goal during the meeting if needed.
Being available, patient, sensitive, respectful, flexible, supportive, knowledgeable, confident, a good listener, and having concern for others.
This section resonated well with the participants, who also mentioned that some of the most important qualities they look for in mentors are being respectful, knowledgeable, confident, and empathetic.
I shared that sometimes not all of the mentors are good mentors, or they may not be the best match for you. If you are looking for someone who is available on a regular basis, but he/she can’t do that for you, it’s okay to look elsewhere.
Steps on how to find (and keep) a mentor:
- Find someone you want to be like
- Study the person
- Make the ask
- Follow up after the meeting
- Let the relationship evolve organically
- Don’t check out when you feel challenged
- Press into relationship
- Ask your mentor for feedback
- Commit to the process
This was an interesting discussion, because many overlooked #2. Studying a person will provide much needed information to make a connection. I shared how some people went to the extent of studying a person for a few years, before even making the ask. #6 was also a good one, because sometimes we tried to force the relationship to happen in a certain way. Oftentimes, we end up disappointed. It could be a monthly meetup, or a yearly sync, or an ad-hoc slack message. We don’t need to label this relationship as “mentorship.” Mentorship is more a mindset, rather than an official labeled process.
This interactive workshop not only provided some frameworks on how to think about mentorship, but also a great sounding board itself. We heard a lot about other people’s experience in mentorship, what others are looking to gain from mentorship, and some of the things we’d like to get better at.
At Women L.E.A.D. Toastmasters, each of our new members has a dedicated mentor. Join us to gain the best experience for your personal development.
Our next meeting is on Wednesday March 17th 7-8pm PST. It’s St. Patrick’s Day and our open house. Come in green, bring your beer, and learn more about motivation.
— written by Renee Yao, President of Women L.E.A.D. Toastmasters