Friday, July 26, 2013

Three Steps to Maximizing Your Mentor/Mentee Partnership

Why mentoring? If you've ever been a mentor or a mentee, I'd bet you'd agree: the pride and satisfaction a mentor receives in sharing her expertise and experiences with another to help her reach her goal, and likewise, the pride and gratitude the mentee receives in attaining her goal because of the support she has gotten, are invaluable.
The foundation of mentoring is a partnership 
that is mutually thoughtful, caring, honest, committed. 
Last evening at the Women's Initiative for Self Employment 'Connect' event, I had the opportunity to share with a room full of budding entrepreneurs and established business people what I believe are the three key components of an invaluable mentor/mentee relationship. Below is a synopsis.

The three components of a successful mentorship relationship are:
1. How do I know I need a mentor?
2. How do I connect with the right one?
3. How do i maximize my mentorship relationship?
* I'll sprinkle in mentor/mentee protocols denoted by P.

1. How do I know I need a mentor?
You know you're ready for a mentor when you get to a place in your business' growth that requires expertise that you don't have. You're ready to seek a mentor when you can articulate your specific goal or need.

2. How do I connect with the right one?
Research, research, research!
a. Brainstorm what types of people might be able to help you. People with the same business and who are where you want to be. People who have the specific skills you need...
Use the internet to help you uncover potential mentors.
Network, network, network!
b. Once you have some broad topics of types of people or specific individuals identified, contact all your current contacts via your Facebook Biz Page (do you have one yet?!), LinkedIn, email, phone and in person, asking them if they know of someone to introduce you to to help you with your specific goal or need.
*The most effective, efficient way to get the help you need is to specify your goal/need. You may also want to send a draft of an introductory email to your contact to use to introduce you to a potential mentor.
c. Once a potential mentor has said yes to the introduction, email the potential mentor, stating your specific goal/need and asking for a 10-15 minute call and suggest a few times. 
d. During the call: clearly state your goal/need, discuss and decide if you two are a good fit, and if you're a 'go' discuss a time-bound timeline (ex. 3 mos., speak every 2 weeks, 1/2 hour), and set up the first meeting. Thank your new mentor for agreeing to mentor you! 
*If it doesn’t seem like the right fit, thank the person for their time. Ask if they have any suggestions of someone who might be able to help you reach your goal. Ask if you may use their name when you make contact with your new potential mentor.
*Meetings can be in person, via skype or on the phone, whatever is most convenient for the two of you.
P: Honor the stated time of each meeting. When it's 2-5 minutes before the end of the meeting, the mentee should mention it.
PThank your mentor and your friend! Email 3rd choice, call is 2nd, a hand-written note is most impactful. 

3. How do I maximize my mentorship relationship?
Mentor: provide specific steps for your mentee. Explain them clearly. Give clear, non-judgmental feedback on steps taken. Pay attention to what the mentee says AND how she says it - remembering the foundation of the relationship: thoughtful, caring, honest, committed. Your goal is to help her feel safe and supported to try out new things, to learn, to move her businesss forward. Underscore that failure is an opportunity to learn and grow.
Mentee: Connect when and where you've agreed to. Call if something comes up.(You and the person who introduced you are on the line!) Ask clarifying questions (there is no such thing as a stupid question). Do the work you agree to do! If at anytime you feel the steps are too many or too few, be honest! Address related issues or snags as they arise. Stick to the time agreed upon. Thank your mentor at the conclusion of each meeting!
Final agreed upon meeting: Review/assess/celebrate progress: Do you need more time together? Are you ready to say goodbye? Discuss next steps in any case.
P: Thank your mentor verbally and send a hand-written note.

Ideally all of us will be mentors someday 
so that we can continue the circle of being helped and helping, being helped and helping.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Take the Learning Road, Hopefully Ever Less, the Less Travelled

This week on my FB biz blog I've been exploring ways that we can pay conscious attention to details in order to maximize care and ongoing growth of ourselves and others. I understand that self-exploration - what's working and feels good, what needs to be added or tweaked and what needs saying goodbye to altogether can either take a toll or prompt inspiration. 

The difference lies in our beliefs about failure. Who wants to venture into something new and fail? Who wants to admit faults about who we are, what we're doing and how we're affecting others?

Rather than avoid potentially unsavory self-revelations and risk-taking 
because of the concomitant shame, anger or frustration, 
such activities can actually engender freedom, advancement and happiness.

How? If we enter our explorations with what Stanford professor Carolyn Dweck calls a 'growth mindset' then our successes and failures are defined by the effort and learning that result, not the result itself. 

And, in the age of mach-speed technological innovation, a persistent learning mentality in both our personal and professional lives is a necessity. Wired cofounder Kevin Kelly declared, "You will be a newbie foreverGet good at the beginner mode, learning new programs, asking dumb questions, making stupid mistakes, soliciting help, and helping others with what you learn (the best way to learn yourself)."

It's a matter of venturing into the shadows in order to bring forth the light.

Step in to step out!


Friday, July 12, 2013

The Eyes Have It!

This week on my biz FB page I've been discussing the visual aspects of interacting, i.e., the smile. While that word, smile prompts us to think of the mouth, lips and teeth, the key to a genuine smile is farther up the face, i.e., in and around the eyes. That's because the muscles needed to truly smile with our eyes are involuntary. So, where there are no pillows below the eyes or crow's feet while smiling, well, you're experiencing a mere courtesy smile. (Isn't that reason enough to avoid Botox!) Make you smile?! This prompts the question: In certain circumstances, which is better, a disingenuous courtesy smile or no smile at all? Or, how about bringing forth an authentic smile and seeing what happens to you and to 'them'. Everyone might be surprised by what possibilities arise.
I encourage you to find reasons to smile, even laugh everyday. Why? According to Help Guide, research shows that smile-inducing laughter has physical, mental and social benefits. Laughter is a powerful antidote to stress, pain, and conflict. Nothing works faster or more dependably to bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh. Humor lightens your burdens, inspires hopes, connects you to others, and keeps you grounded, focused, and alert.
Perhaps best of all, this priceless dose of happiness, when administered authentically, is easy to use, fun(ny) and free!

The eyes have it!