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Ife Tokan: How Do You Get The Best Out Of Your Mentor?

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In my previous article, I spoke about the value a mentor can add to achieving your career and personal goals. Getting a mentor is the first stage of career and personal success; the second stage is getting the best out of that mentor. I have found that although a lot of people have mentors, they don’t engage enough with their mentors and get the best out of that relationship.

While there are a lot of people I admire and a lot of people I regard as “informal” mentors, I currently have the one official mentor.  I talk to him about everything –  ranging from my career to relationships, to other personal topics. I consider myself privileged to have a great mentor that is influential in society; he just received his OBE for his services to society (Whoop! Whoop!). As you can imagine, with great influence in society comes a very busy schedule; as such, here some of the things I have done in order to get the best out of my mentor.

Define Your Communication Platform
It is absolutely essential that you find the most suitable platform to communicate with your mentor, and it is worth noting that this wouldn’t be known from the start of the relationship. The onus is on you to discover what communication platform best suits your mentor. Be aware that this could be a mixture of two communication techniques. For my mentor, I find that that text messaging as well as face to face meetings are the best ways to communicate with him. This is important, as good communication with your mentor is the most effective way to get the best out of the relationship.

Follow Up and Be Flexible
As I mentioned earlier, my mentor is an extremely busy man, thus, it is not uncommon to get a reply from him, 2-3 days after the initial text was sent. I have learned not to take this personal and instead, work around his schedule; sending gentle reminders when necessary. I have also learned to be flexible when it comes to meeting him; I am always happy to meet him at a location closer to his office or home just to help maximize his productive time.

Building the Relationship
Most times when you have initiated a mentor-mentee relationship, the relationship is, more often than not, new. If it isn’t and I did know the person before, the newly formed mentor-mentee relationship would be slightly different, because it is now operating under a new capacity. I have built the relationship with my mentor by getting to know his interests and his family. It is so important that you build a strong and lasting relationship with your mentor in order to get the best out of him.

Invest In Your Mentor
There is a common notion that in a mentor-mentee relationship, the investment is one way (from the mentor to the mentee). I completely disagree with this idea. I believe one must also invest in one’s mentor to get the most optimum out of him/her. I know this may sound complicated, but it is the little things that matter the most. Here are some notable things I have done in the past:

1. Last Christmas, I bought a set of cuff-links and a Thank You card for my mentor. He appreciated the gift and the gesture.

2. I currently sit on the advisory board of one of the charities of which my mentor is the chairman. In this role, I bring in a new perspective and my network.

3. I support my mentor’s “side hustle” in any way possible. An example being that I attend any, if not all, events my mentor organises.

Getting a mentor is certainly the first step to successfully achieving your career/personal goals and ambitions. Use some of these aforementioned suggested tips on how to get the best out of the relationship, and watch how things develop!

Photo Credit: Vadymvdrobot |

"Ife was listed in the Top 100 Outstanding Graduates by the Future Leaders Magazine, UK. He has interned in top global brands like Accenture, PwC and Deloitte. He is a big believer in giving back to the community through any capacity possible. He describes himself in three words: Purposeful, Passionate and Proactive. Ife loves building and mentoring future leaders." Twitter: ife_tokan LinkedIn Ife Ade Tokan

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