10 Tactics to Impress Your Mentor

Public relations leaders share their advice about the many ways you can impress your mentor.

  1. As a mentee, don’t come to a meeting empty-handed, instead come with options and let your mentor be a sounding board, not just an oracle.
  2. Intellectually curious individuals in our profession are the ones who often are most successful. Ask lots of questions, listen to people with different points of view to shape your own and read a lot. On the latter, go deep. Don’t lose sight of reading more in-depth analytical pieces in the face of news bites with flashy headlines on various social media feeds. The former helps shape critical-thinking skills.
  3. Recognize that you’ll benefit from mentorship relationships throughout your careers, that mentoring relationships are different from friendship, that mentor relationships change over time, and that it is crucial to make wise choices of mentors as well as to recognize when it is time to wind down a mentor relationship. Some mentoring relationships do turn into friendships; others may not  but this makes them no less valuable.
  4. Analyze yourself and find where you want to be. Envision where you want to go and let your mentor help finish the painting.
  5. My advice to young professionals and students is to aggressively ask to be mentored. I’ve never known someone to say no to a young person who is driven and intellectually curious enough to ask for help.
  6. Always be true to yourself, and be open to feedback and suggestions. Be clear about what you hope to learn from a mentor, and don’t limit yourself to only one mentor. Diverse opinions are always the best way to get a clear picture of your options.
  7. Ironically, academia can be a lonely place involving solitary work in the midst of thousands. One counterforce to that isolation is to seek and develop a trusting relationship with a mentor. 
  8. First, seek out mentoring relationships and don’t worry about what they are called. Mentoring with a “capital M” can seem daunting to some busy executives,  but they are perfectly happy to provide guidance or advice from time to time. Also, deliver value to your mentor: Share articles you think would interest them; introduce them to people you think they should know; tell them about something you learned; treat them as a partner and not just a source of help. Have more than one mentor – you need a “board of directors.”
  9. As a mentee, seek out individuals who you respect and want to emulate. Ask questions, pick their brains,  but also, listen and observe them. You’ve heard the saying, “talk the talk and walk the walk.” Mentees need to learn the difference and learn it early. Seek council from those individuals who succeed at it. You can learn just as much, if not more, from their actions, not just their words.
  10. A good mentee is someone who realizes that mentorship goes both ways. Offering to help out a mentor, sharing knowledge and supporting the mentor through professional associations are ways mentees can help out their mentors.