So you’ve decided to become a mentor! Well done – we need people like you.
Once you’ve been matched with your mentee, by your HR team or a smart mentoring software, you can start thinking about your first session.
The intro – or ‘chemistry’ – session between a mentor and mentee is crucial, as it will dictate whether the relationship develops, or whether the fit isn’t quite right.
From working with hundreds of mentors here at Guider, we’ve analysed the best way to run a successful intro session with your mentee – here’s a step by step list to get started:
Before the Intro Session:
1. Research your mentee
First thing’s first, read up on your mentee! Take a look at their profile (or questionnaire answers depending how your mentoring programme is run), and familiarise yourself with their background and goals before your intro session.
Take a look at their Linkedin profile too to learn more about their past experience, and note any things you have in common which could be useful for ice breaker conversation.
2. Brush up on your expertise
Take some time to remind yourself of your biggest strengths and achievements. You don’t want to end up giving your autobiography, so prior to your intro session, make sure you’ve reflected on your experience and noted areas you believe you can work on with your mentee.
Remember: this intro session is all about finding alignment and chemistry so you can embark on a mentoring journey together, so it’s best to discuss expertise that is highly relevant to their goals.
3. Double check the logistics
Make sure that you and your mentee know where and when you are meeting for your session, if it’s in person. Or if it’s a video call, check in over email beforehand and test the video link in advance to avoid any technical delays!
During the Intro Session:
1. Ask open questions
In a friendly manner, start the conversation by asking open and general questions about your mentee’s background, their education, interests and career to date. This is also a good time to chat about any mutual interests or hobbies you may have learnt about.
Questions like this work well to kick off discussion:
“Where did you grow up?”
“Could you tell me about your career journey so far?"
“When and why did you join the company you’re currently at?”
2. Introduce yourself
Tell your mentee about yourself, including your career journey and experience, your passions and interests, and why you wanted to be a mentor.
Try to link as much as possible to areas where their interest also lies, to find common ground and highlight how you can help them learn and grow.
3. Stress confidentiality
It’s good to remind your mentee that everything they say or discuss is entirely confidential and stays between you two. This is especially relevant for internal mentoring in organisations – do your best to make your mentee feel at ease and comfortable to open up to you!
4. Discuss their goals
Get an idea about what development areas or goals your mentee wants to achieve, and in what timeframe. Discuss ways you believe you can help them get there, with as many actionable suggestions as possible.
Note: It’s important to be honest at this stage if you don’t feel like you can help them or you don’t think your expertise is relevant to a particular goal.
5. Set mutual expectations
Discuss your working style and set your own boundaries. Be open with your mentee by explaining your limitations and how you want to work together. This includes how often you should meet, how long you want the sessions to be, and how you prefer to communicate.
After the Intro Session:
1. Book the next session
We’d recommend comparing calendars at the end of your intro session, then you can follow up with an email invite for the next session afterwards. If you agreed to a regular meeting time that works for both of you, you can even make this calendar invite recurring.
2. Share relevant materials
Remember to send over the links to any relevant articles, events, books or podcast recommendations you may have discussed in your intro session.
3. Get connected!
If you haven’t done so already, connect with your mentee on LinkedIn and/or Twitter.
The first meeting with your mentee is all about finding chemistry. Getting to know their background, career and personality will help you understand their goals and challenges a lot better.
You may not have too much time to start giving advice, but don’t worry, that will come in proceeding sessions! The majority of the intro meeting will be about getting to know each other and seeing how you can work together going forward.