4 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Becoming a Mentor

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Mentorship is a theme across civilizations and cultures because it’s critical to leadership growth. The mentor / mentee relationship is prevalent in books (Gandalf and Bilbo Baggins), movies (Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi) and comics (Batman and Robin). It’s also a big part of business and of being an entrepreneur. Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey all had mentors who played roles in their success.

Although social responsibility usually refers to the balance between environment and economy, it’s just as important to invest in the lives of others. As a successful entrepreneur, it’s your responsibility to pass on your knowledge because that’s how you can change the world -- give others the right tools to see what they are truly capable of. If you’re ready to give back, it’s time to find a mentorship program that fits your needs.

Related: 5 Secrets to Finding and Working With a Mentor

Before you can find someone to mentor, you have to know what kind of mentor you want to be. The two biggest factors are how much time you can invest and what you want to get out of the relationship. If you don’t have a lot of time for one-on-one interaction, then you may consider utilizing your local university. Think about doing a weekly Q&A session to maximize your time by engaging a group of individuals.

The higher education system also places a lot of value on experiential education. If you have more time, you can be a resource for projects or assist with the personal development of up-and-coming entrepreneurs. Professors will appreciate your real-word advice and involvement. And they can give back to your business in the form of interns, networking and research.

If you have the time to really get involved, see how you can contribute regularly to a mentoring group you believe in. Your local business resource center is a good place to start, and you’ll find plenty of young, eager entrepreneurs ready to learn.

Related: Why It Pays to Identify and Approach Mentors in the Professional 'Cafeteria'

Once you’ve decided what type of mentor you want to be, there are four things you need to do to make the relationship mutually beneficial. Follow these four tips to ensure a productive, long-lasting relationship: 

1. Set a mentorship goal.

There are many mentorship groups with specific goals. Order of Man is designed to help men reconnect with their masculinity, find purpose and achieve self-mastery. Outlier Labs provides mentorship, resources and community to startups and entrepreneurs. Find a goal you’re passionate about and get involved in a group that aligns with it. Both you and your mentee will get more out of it.

2. Dedicate time.

Time is the most valuable commodity you have, so don’t commit to giving more than you can. Your number-one consideration should be to give your business the time it needs. Maybe you’ve automated your whole business and now have loads of free time, or maybe you only have time on weekends. Once you know how much time isn’t taken up by your business, figure out how much you can use to give back.

3. Know the qualities of a good mentee.

Familiarize yourself with the qualities of a good mentee. Someone who has the potential to grow will jump through hoops to do so. That person will be tenacious and eager to see his work come to fruition. He won’t let his feelings get hurt if you correct inefficiencies and mistakes. Most importantly, he’ll be thirsty to learn and motivated to apply new knowledge.

4. Cut when necessary.

This may sound harsh, but your time is valuable. If a mentee has some critical flaws, don’t be afraid to say no to the relationship. Ask questions such as, does he respect your time by being punctual? Does he accept constructive criticism well? Is he full of excuses, or does he present solutions to problems?

Finally, don’t forget that this should be a mutually beneficial relationship. Mentees receive hands-on education and support. Meanwhile, mentors can see where they have gaps in their knowledge, regain focus and evaluate whether their businesses are running efficiently. Always remember that if the relationship is working, learning happens on both sides.

Related: Coaching Makes All the Difference