Mentors invest their time in you. How can you give back to make sure their investment is worthwhile? Here are three simple ways you can reciprocate in a relationship with a mentor.
- Keep your mentor informed. Mentors enjoy being a part of your development. When you excel, they feel rewarded. So make an intentional effort to reach out to them regularly — once a month, every quarter, or whenever you achieve a big goal — to tell them what’s going on in your life and career.
- Express gratitude. One thoughtful way to show your mentor gratitude is through a handwritten note. It should capture the specifics: the situation that you were struggling with, the advice or benefits your mentor provided, and the resulting impacts on you and your life or career. This simple act can not only strengthen your relationship with your mentor, it might even encourage them to mentor others in the future.
- Give feedback. Your mentor may be your senior, but they’re still learning — just like you. Thoughtful feedback is one of the most valuable things you can offer (not just once, but habitually). This can be intimidating, and requires your mentor to be willing to receive feedback. You can help establish these parameters early in the relationship by providing honest and succinct feedback in a follow-up email after a meeting or call.