Every entrepreneur needs mentors to be successful. But business mentors are very busy, so it’s imperative to figure out how to make the best use of their limited time. How? Be proactive in understanding how they can help and maintaining a healthy relationship with them. A mentor cannot make every decision for you; s/he can only be a motivator who gives valuable suggestions when you need them.
What you should ask your mentor?
1. How does s/he spend time outside of work? This helps gather insights about the interests and tastes of your mentor.
2. How would s/he respond to a current dilemma? Remember that mentors have been mentees themselves, so they likely have had valuable advice passed on and are more than willing to do the same for you.
3. How can you help them? Never assume that only the mentor should help the mentee, even the mentee can provide insight on the mentor’s own behavior. Be confident and ask if you can help your mentor in any way possible.
4. What constructive criticism can s/he provide you? Give some space for your mentor to give feedback on your work performance right at the very beginning of your relationship.
5. Why did s/he decide to work with you? Ask for the reason why your mentor accepted you, but also be sure to answer the same question if asked by the mentor.
6. What mistakes has s/he made, either professional or personal? Everyone in the world makes mistakes, so don’t hesitate to ask your mentor about the mistakes s/he has committed (but be sure to learn the subsequent lesson as well).
7. How does s/he overcome failure? Failure is inevitable, especially in the business world. Learning how to accommodate for defeat or failure in life and how to see the positive side can save weeks or even years of stress.
8. How does your mentor consider her/himself unique? Everyone has a different story to tell, so find out what that unique characteristic, quality, or history is.
9. What was his/her proudest moment? Everyone is happy when speaking of his/her own achievements. Give a chance to your mentor to be proud and ask about his/her most cherished moments.
10. What can you do better? Finally, when you earn the trust and confidence of your mentor, ask him/her how you can improve. Personal development is a constantly iterative process.
At the end of your mentoring session, thank your mentor for the valuable time spent with you. Ask yourself what you learned from the session and decide together when you can have the next mentoring session. Always link the next mentoring session with the previous one, and let your mentor know how much progress you’ve made since.