Mentoring Relationships 101

Tips on how to start your mentor or mentee relationship on the right foot.

How you begin your relationship with your mentee or mentor sets the tone for the entire relationship. These tips will help you create a successful beginning.

Tips for Mentors

  • Request that the mentee email a brief bio and resume prior to the first meeting.
  • Consider your own experiences and background in light of your mentee's career and life and reflect on areas of common interest and experience.
  • After reading the mentee's communications, jot down a few questions that you can use as conversation starters in the first session.
  • Identify options in your calendar for regular mentor meetings so you can offer dates and times for future sessions at your first meeting.
  • Suggest a time and location for the first meeting, specifying both the starting and ending time for the conversation. Do choose a safe, public environment.
  • If you select a restaurant or coffee shop, you should take the lead in communicating whether the meal or coffee are your treat or will be split between you. It is preferable to share the expense rather than establish the expectation that you will pay for meals.
  • Start and end your first session on time to establish a good boundary with your mentee.
  • Convey your enthusiasm and make a personal connection via the tone of your email or phone communication. This will help relieve your mentee's fears that he or she may be inconveniencing you.
  • Follow up after the first session with a warm note of encouragement.
  • Follow up immediately after the mentoring session with any actions to which you have agreed.
Want to be a mentor or find a mentor?
Go to ASAE & The Center's Mentor Connector at and set up your mentor profile, search for potential mentors, or do both.

Tips for Mentees

  • Send your resume and a few brief paragraphs that describe your work and personal history to your mentor, along with a word of thanks for volunteering to be your mentor (electronically or via hard copy).
  • Request your mentor's contact information, including the contact information for his or her assistant.
  • Read up on your mentor. Google your mentor to read any news, published work, or announcements that are publicly available.
  • Get a journal or notebook that can be used exclusively for taking notes during your mentoring sessions. Also use it to hold any related materials.
  • Bring your business card to the first session.
  • Dress professionally for the session, as you would for an interview. You may shift to more casual business attire later on, but be aware that you will make an important impression in the first meeting.
  • Take notes during the session. However, don't do so extensively, or it will feel like an interview.
  • Pay attention to time and bring the conversation to a close when you reach the time limit indicated by the mentor.
  • Follow up immediately after the first session with thank-you note and with any actions to which you have agreed.
  • Confirm the date, time, and location of your next mentoring session. Send an email one to two days prior to confirm that the mentor is still "on" for the next session.