1. Keep communications open.
You mentor will make first contact with you, but you should feel free to send messages back as topics or questions arise. Tell the mentor a bit about yourself, professionally and personally. Listen carefully and ask questions for clarification when needed. Reply promptly to messages sent to you. Consider setting goals for frequency of communication with your mentor. If email communication seems to be breaking down, try a phone call to check in and keep communication open.
2. Define expectations.
Establish clear expectations and ground rules at the onset of the mentoring relationship. Consider writing down a list of realistic goals for the mentoring relationship together with the mentor. To develop these goals, assess your needs and what you hope to accomplish with the mentor, as well as how the mentor believes he or she can help you. Revisit and revise these goals together, and use them to evaluate progress over the course of the year.
3. Take initiative and be an active mentee.
Be proactive in all aspects of the mentoring relationship. Listen carefully and respectfully to your mentor’s advice, and ask questions to help your mentor share experiences. Remember that the most effective mentor-mentee relationships are built on mutual learning, so also think about ways you can introduce new ideas.
4. Think of yourself as a professional.
Your mentor is here to help you take part in the professional community of librarians. Take this opportunity to become more familiar with professional organizations and look for ways to participate and volunteer.
5. Be available.
Look ahead and let your mentor know if you will be unavailable for extended periods of time. Be flexible in meeting on your mentor’s schedule. Be punctual and respectful of your mentor’s time. Whenever possible, plan on meeting face to face at conferences or other professional venues.
6. Be reliable and consistent.
Be careful and realistic about the commitments you make to your mentor, but always follow through on those commitments. Gain your mentor’s trust while giving yours.
7. Be prepared to accept honest feedback.
Feedback should be the starting point of further conversation. Ask questions to fully understand your mentor’s evaluations and advice. Do not feel like you must impress your mentor, but do communicate your strengths, interests and skills. Give your mentor feedback and recognition for the help he or she provides.
8. Be innovative and creative.
Be a resource for new ideas. Your mentor probably hopes to learn as much from the relationship as you do.
Keep conversations between you and your mentor is private and confidential. Make sure this expectation for confidentiality is clear and reciprocal: your mentor must also feel confident in you maintaining confidentiality.
10. Address misunderstandings as they arise.
Communicate problems, issues, and misunderstandings within the relationship directly with your mentor in a timely fashion.
12. Contact the Mentoring Program Committee with any questions or concerns during the mentorship.
Last revised: December 13, 2007; January 2011