If we all had experienced guides in our careers many of us will better navigate the issues we have faced at work and at home. The benefits of ancient wisdom cannot be overemphasised.
Many non-work based mentorships are informal and really not based on any agreed terms guiding the nature of the relationship. It is as successful as the parties involved make it especially if it came as a request or if the relationship was not built over time. To increase chances of success, you may want to formalize it a little by agreeing to terms such as frequency and duration of contact.
Personally, I consider it a privilege to have a mentor and I currently guide the relationships between me and the people I consider mentors. One of them reaches out to me every now and then, the other doesn’t at all, I reach out whenever I need help. They are still both mentors despite the different styles.
I do not resent or expect more from any of them, my career development is in my hands.
In my experience, people ask to be mentored whereas they are often looking for much more, they want to be spoon-fed. Some begin by immediately asking for favours which sends the wrong signals.
Firstly, choose wisely, not everyone with more experience wants to be a mentor and some who do have really busy schedules.
Secondly as a mentee, you need to take charge of your career and reach out especially if you have chosen a mentor that is still in active service. Another good choice of mentors are people in your field that are retired. If you need much more support, such people have more time.
Thirdly, develop a relationship, beyond making requests. Sometimes just reach out to say hello. Having a genuine relationship improves the results and benefits enjoyed by both parties.
When I am approached, I make it known that I have a very busy schedule but that the success is very much in their hands. 99% never make contact again. To the 1% that keep on touch, I am happy to help them out.
I also noticed that many prefer to chat online via WhatsApp which sadly doesn’t work for me and possibly others. Pick up your phone, call, or arrange a visit, always consider channels of communication.
Take charge of your career.
Make deliberate plans detaiing what you want to achieve. Schedule regular phone calls or visits with a mentor to discuss your plans and progress.
Build a relationship and you will find that the mentor will start checking up on you as well.
And remember, a mentor is a more experienced guide not a baby-sitter!