Mentorship Support for Entrepreneurs

Mentoring Relationship

What is a mentor-mentee relationship?

A mentor-mentee relationship, or mentorship, is a system of semi-structured guidance whereby one person shares their knowledge, skills and experience to assist another person to progress in their own lives and careers. A mentorship can be a short-term arrangement until the original reason for the partnership is fulfilled (or ceases), or it can last many years.

Mentoring is more than giving advice or passing on what your experience was in a particular area or situation. It's about motivating and empowering the other person to identify their own issues and goals, and helping them to find ways of resolving or reaching them - not by doing it for them, or expecting them to ‘do it the way I did it’, but by understanding and respecting different ways of working.

How can you develop a strong mentor mentee relationship?

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably found and contacted potential mentors, and perhaps even already had an introductory meeting. So what happens next? Now, it’s time to begin building a strong tie with your mentor. Use the following as a guideline to help you strengthen your relationship.

  1. Take some responsibility for reaching out to your potential mentor to meet and talk.

  2. Take the initiative and offer ideas for how you two might spend time together. Planning ahead of time will make it much easier to develop shared expectations for your mentoring relationship later on.

    • Coming up with specific ideas for shared activities is just one component of developing expectations for this mentoring relationship.

  3. Set realistic expectations for previous and new mentoring relationships. Having clear and realistic expectations is important in relationships, especially mentoring relationships. Once you have both agreed that you want to develop a mentoring relationship, it is very important to have realistic and shared expectations or one person may be frustrated or may give up on the relationship. This can be very disappointing and hurtful to both members of the mentoring relationship and should be avoided. There are several things that you can do to prevent potential mentors from giving up and quitting too soon. Check out our guide with Mentoring Relationship Expectations template and create your own.

    • How often do you plan to meet each other?

    • How often are you planning to communicate with each other?

    • What are your goals for your mentoring relationship?

    • What types of activities do you think you will do together?

    • My mentor’s information is: (phone, email)

    • Your emergency communication plan for cancellations or changes

    • The information you will keep confidential is

    • The information that you will not keep confidential

  4. Show your mentor respect for their time, interest, and expertise. Mentors have personal and professional lives and showing an interest in them is an important part of building the relationship. Although the focus is typically on you and your needs, you also want to be sensitive to the needs of your mentor. If something important is happening in your potential mentor’s life, show an interest, be caring, and supportive. Remember that relationships are a two-way street.

  5. Checkout our article on mentoring guidelines and tips to learn how to give your mentor feedback about their impact.

  6. Checkout our article on mentoring guidelines and tips to learn how to show your mentor respect for their time, interest, and expertise

Why is developing a strong mentor mentee relationship important?

Mentoring is important, not only because of the knowledge and skills mentees can learn from mentors, but also because mentoring provides socialization and personal support to facilitate success in new business endeavours. Quality mentoring greatly enhances the mentees' chances for success.

Pro Tip

A good mentor may not only be someone who has content knowledge, but also someone who they think cares about them, they can talk with comfortably, and is compatible with their personalities. It is important to point out that they can probably learn something meaningful and useful from everyone, even if the person may not be the perfect mentor for person can not provide them with all the support they need in their personal or professional lives and that no one is a “super mentor.” Several different mentors can offer different types of support in a variety of ways outside of content knowledge.