The best thing you can do for your mentorship time is to communicate well. There are three key ways that this communication takes place that will help you to maximize your time together.
Set the Agenda beforehand
As entrepreneurs we have a reputation for our ability to work on the fly. Do not do this with your mentors – you’ll waste their time and your own. A few days before you are scheduled to meet up set aside time to reflect on your last meeting, what you have been doing since then, and develop a short list of points for discussion. After looking over your list make sure to email it off to your mentors along with any relevant information. Make sure to let them know you’re open to feedback, but that these are some points you’d like to go over.
Recently we’ve been developing a few strategic partnerships. I wanted my mentors to look over the contract to see if we are missing anything obvious. By sending it along a few days before hand they had a chance to skim through it in between things, and preserved our time together for conversations instead of 10 minutes reading a legal document.
Make it Actionable and Measurable before you stand up
You came seeking advice. Before you get up from the table, articulate the actions and goals that you’ve developed out of your conversation. This gives you one last chance to ensure you all heard the same things, and to affirm the direction you are heading in till your next meet up. I take notes as we discuss things so I can reference them at this point.
I also like to email a brief follow-up on the meeting including the action points to my mentors when I get back to my desk. Sometimes it might take a bit of research on your part to nail down an exact set of numbers, but send this along. It communicates how much you value the time you have with them.
Keep the Communication Going
When it makes sense, send a quick email letting them know how things are going. Don’t say that you are too busy for this. They are busier than you are and choose to make time for you. If you said you were going to contact 8 people, let them know after you contact the last one, and briefly explain how it went. Maybe you could even bring up a point or two for the next time you meet up based on your success/failure to reach the goal. This communication loop can be repeated between every time you meet up with them.
Any other advice on how to communicate well with mentors?