Mentorship Defined: A Simple Guide to Building Mentor Relationships

In this guide, you'll learn how to build relationships with mentors that can accelerate your life. Mentors aren't just career guides, they're life coaches who can light up all the paths you're not seeing.

The Power of Guidance

Mentorship is often defined by the guidance of a more experienced person to a less experienced person in a career context, but truly great mentor relationships go far beyond just providing career advice. Why invest time in mentorship? The best mentors can dramatically transform how you approach challenges and opportunities.

Engaging with a mentor can help you:

  1. Accelerate your growth.
  2. Make better decisions.
  3. Identify and address blindspots.
  4. Open doors to new opportunities.
  5. Grow as a leader.
  6. Expand your network.


Unfortunately, despite all of these benefits, many people shy away from developing mentor relationships. A few of the most common reasons include:

1. Self-doubt

Many people hesitate to reach out because they're afraid of rejection. For example, feeling like you haven't accomplished enough to justify the attention of a mentor.

2. Expectations

Without clear expectations, people often get lost trying to understand the purpose of the mentorship.

3. Time

People are often afraid they won't have time to commit to a new engagement.

4. No formal structure

When mentorships don't have a formal structure, people often struggle to engage and maintain mentor relationships.

Simple Guide: Building and Defining Mentorships

Despite these challenges, there's an easy way to create and sustain meaningful mentorships.


Step 1: Reach out with a simple, personal message

This is so important because, as cliché as it sounds, the first step is the hardest. Writing a simple, clear, personal message shows you've taken time to understand the mentor's background and that you genuinely value them and their experience. Specifically, highlight what you admire about them. This could include: their experience, their work, their leadership, how they handle difficult situations, or other anything else you appreciate about them.

Here's an example of how to do this effectively:

If you're a designer reaching out to a well-known artist, perhaps you might mention that their work greatly influenced your thesis. Alternatively, if you're really impressed with how someone handles conflict in a leadership role, tell them about a specific time when you observed these skills in action and that you're interested in learning how to be more effective in similar conflicts.


Step 2: Define clear expectations and goals

When there are no clear expectations and goals, mentorships can quickly lose direction. In order to prevent this, start with very clear, agreed-upon expectations and goals. Defining the mentorship might include:

  1. The specific goals or outcomes both people hope to achieve. For example, what you hope to learn, or what guidance would be most helpful.
  2. The best method of communication.
  3. The frequency of meetings or check-ins.

Step 3: Follow up

Once you've initiated a mentorship and defined clear expectations and goals, the most critical aspect of a high quality mentorship is the follow up. This step is also simple, yet often overlooked. Following up is the energy that creates momentum for relationships.

  1. Create a schedule for follow ups.
  2. Bring topics or insightful questions inspired your recent experiences.
  3. Be flexible to your mentor's schedule and availability.
  4. Always express gratitude for your mentor's time and guidance.

Effective Mentorship

These steps are all about building strong mentor/mentee relationships. Ultimately, this is about making connections with people you admire. Doing this effectively opens doors to invaluable insights, expands your network, improves your skills, and creates a support system that can get you to the next level in your career and personal life. Simply sending a personal message, setting clear goals, and always following up can lead to extraordinary growth and development. Don't miss out on unlocking a greater version of yourself through mentorship.