Entrepreneurs are often looking to be mentored. Yet they also have talent, ideas, a fresh perspective, and knowledge that makes them desirable mentors. And mentoring is a natural way to pay their gratitude forward.
It’s easy to shove mentoring to the bottom of a busy to-do list, but even people with full personal and professional lives can contribute to the community. Plus, the people you mentor may go on to become fabulously successful, and they will always think fondly of you.
To keep the commitment sane and productive, be choosy and strategic about who you mentor. There are effective ways to identify the people who are truly interested in mentoring versus those who pursue scoring a coffee with someone noteworthy in hopes of garnering magical results.
My favorite is to create a list of FAQs with the answers to the questions that are most commonly asked of you. Send this list to anyone who asks to “pick your brain.” Invite them to read it and send you any follow up questions. Interestingly enough, I’ve found that most people don’t bother following up. By sending the list and being sincere about continuing the conversation you have been helpful—and now you are off the hook.
When people do follow up with intelligent questions, you know these are the people you want to meet with.
Making Mentorship Efficient
Here are some ways to make mentoring more convenient and efficient:
- Designate a regular mentoring time and place, such as Friday morning coffee at a shop near your office. You save planning time because you and your mentee won’t need a long back and forth text or email trail to schedule each meeting.
- Mentor during one-on-one activities. For instance, Wednesday after-work walks. Active meetings are great at facilitating insightful, dynamic brainstorming as well as making you both feel good by doing something healthy.
- Invite your mentee to join you for things you already do, like walking your dog or sitting at a swim meet watching your kids compete.
- Establish an end time up front. Maybe it’s the end of the walk, or a set hard stop time. Great conversations can go on and on. It can feel good to get carried away in the moment. This feeling only lasts until you finally get to your desk and face a pile of emails and issues. Avoid getting burned out or resentful of your mentoring sessions by being respectful of time.
Mentorship can be highly rewarding, especially if you find ways to make it efficient and productive. A good mentoring relationship inspires the mentor to look for ways to make opportunities for their best mentees.