Let’s face it. Meeting your mentor or mentee for the first time isn’t much different from a blind date. It can be awkward. Thankfully, WISE Within provides structure. Requisite monthly meetings or phone calls, an exchange of expectations and a time frame for the program prove vital in overcoming the potential uneasiness involved with getting to know someone new.
But after that, I say run with it. Let the program’s framework be a springboard, and don’t be afraid to have some fun.
During my first go-around as a WISE Within mentor, my mentee and I began with more formal meetings, often prepared with a discussion topic, but as our relationship evolved, we took advantage of more social situations. We attended the Big East tournament together, which allowed her to see me in my element. We “double-dated” with another mentoring pair, sharing stories over drinks. And, after discovering that we and the other mentor had all worked with the same New York-based producer at different points in our careers, we invited him to catch up over lunch.
When you are one-on-one, there can be a business-first mentality dictating the interaction. When you are out participating in an activity together, you take some of the pressure off and relax a little bit more, which I have found permits conversation to flow more freely.
We bonded further during these more casual outings, expanded our network and reconnected with those we had lost touch with. Plus, it was a blast. The result was an open and honest relationship from which we both learned and a safe environment in which my mentee felt comfortable talking about a variety of topics without fear of consequence. A year after formally “closing out” our mentorship, the lines of communication are still very much open.