Tips to Make the Most Out of Your Mentorship

1)      Be clear on why you want a mentor and why you are meeting.

Define what type of help you’re looking for in a mentor. Are you looking for someone with similar skills or someone with a very different skill set who can coach you? Are looking for someone who has their own practice(s) or someone with experience in Dental Service Organizations?

2)      Establish goals for the relationship.

Discuss and agree on the goals of the relationship and what you, personally, are doing to make it a successful venture. Review these goals from time to time to be sure the relationship is working. If not, adjust or seek out other mentors.

3)      Don’t limit yourself to one mentor.

You can establish multiple mentoring relationships with individuals who can help you grow in different aspects of your life. Think of it as building your own personal board of directors. Your “board” can include GPs, specialists, non-dental professions, and more.

4)      Establish communication methods and frequency of contact from the beginning.

Talk with your mentor to determine the lines of communication that will work for both of you. Will you meet face-to-face or communicate mainly through email and phone? Make sure you meet/talk enough to suit both of you.

5)      Manage expectations and build trust.

Mentoring takes time and implies sacrifices for both the person being mentored and the mentor. Be respectful of your mentor’s time and the other priorities in his/her life, such as family, travel and community activities. Avoid any trust-breaking behaviors such as canceling appointments or not following through on leads and contacts given to you by your mentor.

6)      Acquire mentoring skills and competencies.

Pay attention to great skills that you notice in your mentors. These skills include listening, guidance, recommendations and wisdom. When you receive corrective feedback from your mentor, don’t be defensive. Listen, digest and take immediate steps to apply what you have learned.

7)      Be respectful of your mentor’s time.

Do not overburden him/her by demanding too much time or too many contacts. Understand that the moment you decide you need information might not be the best time for them, so be patient.

8)      Express your gratitude.

Your mentor is likely to give a lot more than you do in the relationship in terms of time and contacts. Be sure to express regularly that you value and appreciate your mentor’s guidance.

9)      Vary the activities you do together.

There are numerous activities you can do with your mentor, such as talking about your past experiences, goals, plans and skill development. Attend meetings, conferences and social events together. You can also shadow your mentor at their practice or review your resume. There are lots of opportunities to know each other on a professional and personal level. Take advantage of it.