Whether the word you choose is “mentee” or “protégé”, being one is tough. Perhaps you’ve found a mentor (or mentors), maybe you’ve even created your own powerful Board of Directors who consider you their protégé and will continually help you in your career. Once you’ve created this group, though, what do you do with them? How often do you meet with them? How do you ensure you’re going to be successful in the relationship you’re creating.
All of these questions and more were answered by the Wall Street Journal in “How to Be a Smart Protégé – Eight Tips for Setting Up a Network of Mentors” In it, they lay out when to communicate with these mentors, how, and what you’ll need to do to ensure you’re successful and both parties are receiving a mutual benefit from the mentoring relationship.
Our favorite piece of advice from the Wall Street Journal article is this:
Savvys always come prepared for meetings with a current or potential mentor. Let’s say there’s a particular challenge they want to discuss. They might research the topic thoroughly and come up with a bunch of different approaches for the mentor to review. This shows the mentor that the Savvy is competent and eager to meet challenges, and values their time together.
Essentially, they’re saying it’s up to you to bring the agenda to the table. You can’t expect your mentor, who is already giving of themselves and their time, to drive your work together. You have to be the driver, and you have to give them options and opportunities to help you succeed.