Mentoring allows you to touch another person’s life by sharing the best of what you know, distilling the essence of your experience into a concentrated package of wisdom. The relationship you build with your protégé has the potential to be meaningful. Great friendships have been forged during my experience in mentoring, and plenty of business leaders credit their success to their mentors.
Once you have successfully completed your mentoring program, congratulations are in order for your protégé. Now it’s time to wrap up loose ends and finalize this stage of your relationship.
Each summer in my company, we take on a college intern to mentor in the publishing business. This year it’s a student studying theatric arts in New York City. A couple of years ago it was Cameron, a sharp kid attending school in Washington, D.C., and he had already enjoyed some success with social media. One of the music videos he’d posted on YouTube had chalked up 800,000 views. I figured he would be a good person to have around.
My staff and I were able to teach Cameron a considerable amount about the publishing industry, especially the craft of recording and producing audiobooks. Likewise, he turned out to be a great ambassador for his generation, keeping some of my stodgier clients in touch with the needs and tastes of a youthful audience.
Cameron’s perspective was invaluable to me, and he definitely enjoyed the life—riding in limousines to stadium audiences and dining in the Seattle metro area’s finest restaurants. Our final outing together was such a success that it became a tradition I now call The Publisher’s Lunch. Sharing experiences like this gave us a common bond, and we are still in touch to this day.
Like my final lunch with Cameron, it’s customary to commemorate your mentoring completion so you have some punctuation on the occasion—some closure. You and your protégé might want to enjoy a celebratory lunch together and have a relaxed conversation reviewing your progress together. Clearly, you both deserve to celebrate a job well done, and a good recap will help you put a handle on the moment.
True mentor-protégé relationships continue long beyond any defined mentoring program. If your protégé is going to work for your company now, your status as colleagues will take on an entirely new meaning. If your protégé is moving on to new horizons, you might help them find a job or otherwise network.
Embracing the New Purpose
However it pans out, the two of you would do well to discuss a framework for communicating in the future. Does your protégé plan to relocate, get married or head back to school? How will you stay in touch as your workload increases? Factors like these can limit the frequency of your exchanges, but it’s still worthwhile to make an effort to keep in touch.
If you used the phone to stay connected during your mentorship, you may want to continue with this method of communication. Or you might agree to switch to e-mail. Establishing casual ground rules for phone calls, texts, emails, and visits ensure that the relationship will remain comfortable. You can remain responsive to each other without being intrusive.
Just yesterday, last year’s protégé sent me a text telling me that my texts were acting funny. He hopped on the phone with me for 15 minutes and we adjusted a few settings while catching up on his life. I learned that he is getting married soon and just earned his commercial pilots license. How exciting to catch-up!
Think about what you can offer as well as what you get from your new relationship. You and your protégé may be able to continue assisting each other. What goals, if any, would you like to achieve going forward? How will you go about reaching them?
Even though your mentorship ends and you’ve shared ideas with your protégé, you can still keep your momentum by mentoring someone new. You might want to take a break and give yourself time to reflect before beginning again. If the mentoring program was successful, consider continuing to serve as a mentor.
As Time Dances On
Remember that the benefits of mentoring go both ways. You’ve probably learned as much from your protégé as they’ve learned from you. By staying on the mentorship path, you can gain a new outlook on life and have the satisfaction of helping several people in their careers. This reflects well on you and diversifies your character.
It’s likely that during the process you and your protégé became fairly well acquainted. Your tastes and preferences, your professional objectives and your personal goals have all come to light. Your protégé is now a great new resource for finding new prospects to mentor.
If you’d like to keep mentoring, bring this up when you have your final meeting with your protégé. Let on that you are looking for someone else to assist, and ask for referrals from quality candidates. Having a referral you can act on with confidence will lighten your load in the task of finding someone new to mentor.
Having a protégé is an exciting experience. Mentoring is a rewarding experience as well as an important life skill. It will contribute to your success in ways that are hard to anticipate or describe. Once you have succeeded in the process, you’ll want to do it again. It’s the kind of worthy effort of which legacies are made.
Bryan Heathman is the President of Made for Success Publishing and the host of the Book Publishing Success podcast show. Bryan works with best-selling business authors, including NYT best-selling authors Chris Widener and Tom Hopkins, plus up-and-coming authors including Johnny Covey. Bryan is the author of Conversion Marketing, a marketing book on converting website visitors into buyers. Bryan’s Fortune 500 experience includes Microsoft, Eastman Kodak and Xerox.