Yesssss!!! 2016 has been a year of women running the world. Ask Beyonce. Ask Hilary. Ask Taraji. Tell yourself and embrace it! It is our time ladies and it feels great.
You may have even found yourself finding a mentor in your field. Yay! Awesome! Go, you!
Having a mentor can be an amazing professional development resource. For us millennials, mentors are awesome because they can show us the ropes in our professional industry and (high-key) check us on the personal faux pas newbies can make in the workplace. They share this wisdom in love and compassion too. But before you and your mentor reach this point, you have to get through that first, possibly super awkward, introductory meeting.
During my first meeting with my mentor, I spent the first few minutes trying to “figure her out.” I knew she was “down,” but you never know how open or comfortable a professional colleague will be in a non-work setting. Part of my anxiety came from my own insecurities and wanting to come across as a mature, professional, well-put-together (what does that even mean? I’m not.) career woman. But the other part was me being intimidated, sitting down with a successful corporate attorney.
I wish someone would have told me, “Courtney, it’s not that serious.” A mentor-mentee relationship is a positive, empowering and motivating relationship. Once you get over the initial nerves of meeting a new person, you’ll quickly find that your mentor is bomb.com, willing to help you and share wisdom, AND she’s probably a really cool chick! Here are three tips to help you with that first meeting –
1. Choose Your Mentor Carefully
There are dozens of ways to find a mentor. I was lucky enough to connect with a young African American woman attorney while working at a law firm. You can connect with mentors through your work, community organizations, sororities, nonprofit organizations and programs such as CMB Mentor.
When selecting a mentor, you should make sure that person will be able to meet the expectations you have for that relationship. In other words, what do you want from a mentor? A listening ear, advice on your career, sisterly guidance? Find a mentor that is willing to help with your needs. You should also be careful when selecting a mentor because some people may expect payment for mentorship. Be very clear about what you’re looking for and go for it. Online communities such as CMB Mentor are a great place to start to meet like-minded career women.
2. Be Yourself
When you sit down with your mentor or meet virtually, remember to be yourself. You may be nervous to meet your mentor, but your mentor is also thinking about making a great relationship with you. Your mentor may be just as nervous about impressing you and making that genuine connection. You can set the tone by being yourself and having your normal, cool, and “woke” conversation.
In a time where everyone is on Snapchat, some are always flexing on Instagram and everybody and their mama has a Facebook, we all appreciate genuine human interaction. In a mentor-mentee relationship, we are looking to connect with another person that is interested in our career and professional aspirations. Be yourself when you meet your mentor and let your awesome personality shine. Your mentor will be more open to connecting with you and you’ll make honesty and transparency a foundation of your new relationship.
3. Plan an Activity
Plan some epic ish for your first meet-up! Even if it’s online, plan to have a delicious dinner prepared while you meet. If you’re lucky enough to find a mentor in your city, invite them to a poetry event you’ve wanted to try or a cool cafe you want to check out. Because you took the time to choose a really cool and like-minded mentor, they will enjoy the activity you choose. Also, planning the activity shows initiative and a commitment to seeing your relationship succeed. Your mentor will appreciate it, and you’ll definitely have a good time because you chose the activity!