So, you’re ready to mentor? Now, all you need is to find someone to mentor.

Why do mentoring relationships fail? They fail because neither the mentor nor the mentee know why they are in the mentoring relationship. Sure, they may know they want to either be mentored or they want to mentor someone, but that’s it. Does there need to be a reason? Yep!

A mentoring relationship with a solid foundation is sure to succeed. The following are 4 essential steps to becoming a hugely successful mentor:

Step One: Why. Get clear on why you want to be a mentor. Is it because you want to give back? Is it because you want to be a part of cultivating the next generation? Is it because you think it will make you look good and perhaps make your resume look even better? Is it because you know you can really help someone?

Step Two: Offering. What are the skills, experiences and, perhaps, connections you would like to offer in a mentoring relationship? How much time per month do you want to commit? Do you want the time to be in person, on the phone or over email? Some people do not want to give away a skill set they are paid for in their career. For example, an expert in marketing may not want to share her marketing strategies inside the context of a mentoring relationship. I had the opportunity to see first-hand what a lack of clarification around expectations can do to a relationship. Take time to write out what you want to offer.

Step Three: Ask. What skills, experiences or connections is your mentee hoping to gain? They may not have fully thought this question through. I encourage you to ask them to create their list before your first meeting. You want to make sure that you know what they are expecting to ensure both of you can, ultimately, remain focused on building your relationship and helping each other. Yep, you can ask your mentee for help too. In fact, the best mentoring relationships are two sided.

Step Four ~ The Ultimate: Have fun! This relationship is meant to be fun and rewarding. I have seen and experienced several different kinds of successful mentoring relationships. Some have been boundary driven and others less formal in nature. Either way, I encourage you to communicate clear expectations and be ready for a rewarding experience.

Being a mentor takes time, energy and resources. It also takes a real commitment to watching your mentee reach their potential. Be ready ~ the experience of mentoring is a real gift.

Rock on!


Misti Burmeister, best-selling author of “from Boomers to Bloggers”