Tips for Participating in Your Mentoring Relationship

mentoring pair

A mentoring relationship is an equal partnership—a two-way street in which both you and your mentor want things to be as positive as possible. Like any friendship, the more energy and respect you put into your mentoring relationship, the more you’ll get out of it. And how do you do that?

  • Make a commitment to your mentor to make the most of this new friendship. A relationship is only as good as the energy two people put into making it work. YouthBuild will ask you to make a 15-month commitment.
  • Exchange contact information and talk about the best way to reach each other—by phone, text message, e-mail, or whatever works best for both of you. Talk about what time is best for both of you to call or text and stick to those times. If your phone number or contact information changes, let your mentor know right away so you can stay in touch.
  • Show up for meetings. If you make a plan with your mentor, be there.
  • If there is an emergency and you really need to skip a meeting at the last minute—maybe your car broke down or your baby’s sick—call your mentor right away to let him or her know.
  • Get in touch with your mentor if you haven’t heard from him or her. You don’t need to wait for the mentor to call you—this is your relationship too. Everybody gets busy or forgetful sometimes, and all it takes is a quick call or text message to say, “Hey. What’s new? Let’s get together.”
  • Be open and don’t judge. You and your mentor will probably have a lot in common, but you may have some differences, too. Asking questions is a great way to learn about the different life experiences people have. Talk about them openly, share your thoughts, and ask questions. Expect your mentor to do the same.
  • Share your dreams, goals, and accomplishments. The more you share about what you hope to accomplish, the easier it will be for your mentor to suggest activities and introduce you to other people who can help you get there. Nothing strengthens your sense of connection more than sharing your successes. Calling your mentor when you feel good about an achievement or blessing in your life is a great way to build the relationship. Some day you may need to ask your mentor for help with a challenge, but don’t wait until then to reach out.
  • Show appreciation. Your mentor will likely get as much out of your relationship as you will, but mentors may not always know if you are really enjoying your time together. Find ways to tell your mentor you like having him or her in your life. A simple “That was fun today,” a handwritten note on a birthday or special occasion, or asking how things are going, can go a long way.
  • Be respectful. Just like you don’t want your mentor to share with others personal stuff you talk about together, show your mentor the same respect if he or she shares private information with you. Being reliable and on time is another way to show your respect.
  • Be reliable. Nothing creates a good reputation and track record toward professional success more than keeping your word, being reliable, and showing up on time. Your relationship with your mentor is an important place to practice these skills and habits. Remember, your mentor is volunteering to be with you and his or her time is a precious gift.