Sharing your experience is an important part of mentoring and is an easy way to give back. Even with just a few years of experience, you’ve likely gained a lot of knowledge during that time that you can use to help inspire and guide someone through their personal and professional development journey.
However, simply giving a monologue about your life and hoping it encourages your mentee to take action isn’t the best approach. Here are a few tips for sharing your experience so that it has an impact:
Be a source of inspiration
Your professional journey might not seem that exciting to you but it can be an important source of inspiration for someone else. Through being a role model and leading by example, you demonstrate what’s possible for your mentee. Whether you’ve worked hard to get a promotion, learned a hard skill, or overcame imposter syndrome, sharing that experience can help encourage your mentee to reach their own goals. Tell your mentee the good, the bad, and the ugly of how you got to where you are and share the essential tools and resources that helped you get there.
Your experience is a great jumping off point for starting discussion and helping to guide your mentee toward their goals. However, it’s important to remember that while your experience can act as a source of inspiration for your mentee, everyone is on a different path. Your experience should add to their journey, not dictate it.
Find common ground
No matter what you’re going through in your life or career, it’s comforting to know that you’re not alone. The same holds true for mentees. However, saying things like, “I know how you feel” or “I’ve been there” are empty platitudes that don’t hold much weight without further elaboration. Sharing examples of similar situations you’ve been in, how you felt, and what you learned will help you connect with your mentee on a deeper level. It’s not necessary to have gone through the same exact thing to be able to find common ground with your mentee in this way. Sharing your experience with them helps create a strong connection built on trust, support, and understanding. This is key to a successful mentoring partnership and helping your mentee reach their goals.
Learn from your mistakes
Some of the best lessons can be learned from other people’s mistakes. While it’s important to inspire your mentee through the things you’ve done well, sharing where you came up short and what you wish you had done differently can be a powerful learning opportunity and a great tool for starting a discussion. Remember that project that didn’t go so well? Tell your mentee about it. Then, follow up by asking how they would have approached the situation and if there’s anything they would have done differently. This will give you great insight into how they approach challenges and problem solving, which is essential to understand when it comes to providing guidance and advice in a mentoring relationship.
Also, don’t forget that your experience is bigger than just you. Maybe your business didn’t go under but you know someone whose did. Sharing where they went wrong can potentially help your mentee to avoid making the same mistakes.
Social networks, even professional ones like LinkedIn, can make it easy to fall into the trap of feeling like you’re the only one who is stuck while everyone else is effortlessly progressing with their career. By being open and honest with your mentee about how long it took to master a skill or the challenges you’ve had to overcome will provide a more realistic outlook on career progression and reassure them that they’re on the right path. No matter how far along you are in your journey, there’s always something more to be learned. Remind your mentee that you’re learning alongside them and benefiting from them sharing their experience as well.