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Making Your Mentoring Conversation Count

Making Your Mentoring Conversation Count

This blog is for different audiences. Sometimes it’s for everyone who cares about career exploration. Sometimes it’s for mentors. 

This blog entry is for those we call “seekers.” A seeker is a mentee, a young adult exploring career choices, anyone refining a career path. Those who want their careers to be relevant to their life missions.

Mentoring conversations can be rewarding, even life-changing. The results from Immanuel’s Pathways program confirm that. Sometimes they’re duds. How do you increase the chances of having a great, inspiring, even life-changing conversation?

Suppose you line up conversations with seven different mentors. Let’s also assume that one of those mentors is the key mentor that could make a difference in your future. How do you make sure you know it, and take advantage of it?

This isn’t to try to stress you out about your mentoring conversations. They should be fun. Indeed, that’s a good place to start the list of how to make your mentoring conversations better: have fun. You’ll be more “on,” more engaged in your conversation, more likely to learn.

There are lots of great resources out there about improving your mentoring experiences. This article in Forbes has 5 great suggestions for improving your mentoring relationships: 

  1. Research, and know, your mentor.
  2. Be clear about what you want out of the conversation.
  3. Ask questions.
  4. Keep the person updated (i.e., invested in you).
  5. Ask if you can help the mentor. 

One of our favorite resources is Designing Your Life, by William Burnett and Dave Evans, a New York Times best-seller based on a popular career exploration course taught at Stanford. The book has great thoughts (pages 115-117 ) about conducting a mentoring conversation, which they call a “Life Design Interview.” As we like to say, read the book. Do the exercises in the book. Then thank us for the recommendation.

Last point for improving your conversation success rate: Figure out why you want a mentoring conversation (point 2 of the Forbes article cited above). 

    • Is it to lead you on a path further into a specific career? Then look for mentors with specific experience, or potential leads into that experience. 
    • Do you want to explore lifestyle issues raised by different careers? Look for mentors with experience and interest in lifestyle issues. 
    • What if you have no idea what you want to do? There are great people out there with wisdom on that subject. 

Our Pathways program identifies mentors with experience and wisdom in each of those three categories.

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