Do you participate in a mentorship program at work? Many firms offer mentoring, but it is not monitored. They match you with an experienced employee but then leave it up to you to make it work.

Some mentors thrive in the role. They look forward to sharing their knowledge. Sometimes they talk nonstop and schedule too many meetings.

Other mentors dread the role. It may have been required for them to participate in the program. They tend to be too busy to meet or follow up with a mentee.  

No matter the situation, follow these three tips to make your mentorship meaningful.

1- Take ownership of the relationship.

Schedule meetings with your mentor but make sure you use their time wisely. In other words, prepare for the meeting by defining what you expect from it.

Are you seeking knowledge regarding your industry?

Are you seeking advice on how to handle a situation at work?

Do you want them to introduce you to others at a networking event?

Don’t schedule a meeting just to have a meeting with your mentor. Have a purpose for the meeting to make it worth your time and your mentor’s time.

2- Create an advisory board.

Instead of having one mentor, select several mentors. This group becomes your personal advisory board.

By having more than one resource, you’ll receive different perspectives on your work situation. As a result, you’ll make better decisions.

Members of your advisory board do not have to meet together – it would be challenging to schedule one meeting. Instead, have one-on-one meetings to build your relationship with each person.

When selecting your advisory board members, expand your circle to include people outside from your current employer. This action will give you resources for difficult work situations.

As you build your relationships, your advisory board members may introduce you to other opportunities that will help you achieve your professional aspirations.

3 – Be a mentor.

The best way to understand a role is to be in that role. Your college or professional organization may solicit mentors for those younger than you. Volunteer your time.

You’ll quickly learn what it’s like to be a mentor. As a result, you’ll be more understanding toward your mentor.

You may even gain some ideas to maximize your own mentorship. Many colleges and professional organizations have defined mentorship guidelines that you could apply with your advisory board.

Whether or not your firm offers a mentorship program, take control of your career and seek mentors. Create an advisory board to help you navigate your career track. Be purposeful in your meetings, recognizing you’re building your personal brand.

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Niv Persaud, CFP®, CDFA™, RICP®, CRPC®, is the Founder of Transition Planning & Guidance, LLC. Life is more than money. It’s about living the lifestyle you want and can afford. For that reason, Niv consults with clients on money, life, and work. Her approach capitalizes on techniques she learned throughout her career, including as a management consultant, executive recruiter, and financial advisor. Her services include developing spending plans, comprehensive financial plans, divorce financial reviews, retirement plans. Niv actively gives back to her community through her volunteer efforts. She believes in living life to the fullest by cherishing friendships, enjoying the beauty of nature and laughing often — even at herself. Her favorite quote is by Erma Bombeck, “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say ‘I used everything you gave me.’”