How To Maximize The Value of Mentorship Meetings As A Mentee

Mentorship is a crucial part of building your career or business. For startup founders especially, working with a mentor can help you navigate choppy waters and avoid pitfalls you might not know about. However, mentorship meetings are just like any other business meeting—they will not deliver maximum value if not managed correctly. 

MindFrame Connect Co-Founder Brice Scheschuk has taught mentorship and menteeship for years, sharing how a mentee can take ownership of a meeting for maximum benefit. 

Specifically, this framework is for longer-form, recurring mentorship meetings. For speed mentor meetings, check out Scheschuk’s framework on Speed Mentorship and Speed Menteeship.

Mentees own the meeting

The goal of this framework is to help mentees improve the interactions they have with mentors, said Scheschuk, to generate the most effective outcomes. 

In order to do that, Scheschuk said mentees must own the meeting and come prepared.

Cadence is based on need: When you first start with a mentor, Scheschuk said you might meet more frequently as you get to know each other (for instance, weekly or monthly for a short period of time). After that, the frequency will likely go down and adjust as needed.

“If it's quarterly, if it's half yearly, if it's more ad hoc, that is okay,” said Scheschuk. “It's whatever works for both sides.”

You own the agenda: As the mentee, you want your mentor to think about you ahead of the meeting. To accomplish that, send your three most important barriers and two specific asks to your mentor three days before the meeting. 

It’s your job to stay on track: Know that your mentor may go on tangents and tell stories. This is natural and stories can be incredibly helpful, but it’s your job to keep coming back to the agenda so you’re getting the most value possible from the meeting.

Respect your mentor’s time: Your mentor is giving their time to you for, theoretically, no return. They just want to see you succeed. If you walk in with “complete and utter respect” for their time, “the productivity that ensues is incredible,” said Scheschuk.

It’s ok to get personal: As a founder, what happens in your personal life can affect your business and vice versa. With that in mind, it’s ok to bring some personal things into a mentorship meeting—it doesn’t have to be all business, all the time. 

Running a successful mentor meeting

When it comes to the meeting itself, Scheschuk outlined a few key points for all mentees:

Target 1-hour meetings: While your first meeting might be longer to accommodate introductions and getting to know one another, Scheschuk recommends 1-hour meetings on an ongoing basis. Anything longer feels like it drags on while anything shorter, in Scheschuk’s experience, doesn’t allow for fully flushed-out conversations.

Take notes: You would be surprised how quickly you forget key concepts, said Scheschuk. Taking notes avoids this problem.

Don’t talk about accomplishments: These meetings are about helping you move forward, not about how great you are, said Scheschuk. So while you might bring up an accomplishment briefly, focus your agenda on the problems, risks, and issues that are coming up in your business. Then look to future asks–both of yourself and your mentor–to keep things moving ahead. 

Allow for serendipity: Don’t over-structure or fill every moment of your meeting with agenda items. Sometimes it’s the stories, tangents, and discussions you didn’t know you needed to have that provide the most value. 

“We are not so structured that we can't allow… things we hadn't brought to the table as part of the agenda,” said Scheschuk.

Every meeting needs clear objectives and next steps: As you near the end of your meetings, always find the next steps. This adds structure to the meeting so every meeting follows a similar cadence of discussing issues, identifying insight, turning insight into action, then planning to take action that will be reviewed at the next meeting. 

Always end with appreciation: No matter how tough the meeting was, end with positivity and genuineness.

“It sets the stage for the next meeting,” said Scheschuk.

Post-meeting follow up

In a recurring meeting, there’s always a next step or movement in the cadence. Here’s how to continually improve your meetings.

Give (and get) honest feedback: If a mentor asks you for feedback on their performance, give it honestly. If they don’t ask, offer it to them. And always make sure you ask for feedback on how you led the meeting. 

Follow up effectively: After the meeting, send a follow-up note with any points you want to highlight. This might include thank-yous, action items, and possibly a request to include that mentor in your periodic business updates. 

What mentors are taught about meetings

While mentees own the meeting, mentors have a key role to play. Scheschuk highlighted a few key things every mentee should know about what mentors are taught.

Set expectations about what you can offer, the purpose of each meeting, and any rules of engagement you need respected.

Don’t set the agenda—instead, ask mentees to set it for each meeting.

Set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound) goals in all meetings in collaboration with your mentee.

Ask for feedback on how you can improve plus offer feedback to your mentee on how they can make the most of your time together.

Allow for serendipity by encouraging the occasional tangent or sharing stories—you never know how valuable those moments can be.

MindFrame Connect Co-Founder Brice Scheschuk shares his advice for mentees who want to get value from ongoing mentorship meetings

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