Tips for the first meeting

You’ve been matched with a mentor. What do you do now?

Becoming a part of Kilfinan is exciting but we know that it can make some people nervous. As a CEO you are used to being in charge, but suddenly you are being set up to work with someone you haven’t met. Your Kilfinan Mentoring Relationship Manager has researched and interviewed you both and we think there is a good chance of you successfully building a productive relationship. Nevertheless, many people tell us they can feel a bit apprehensive before the initial meeting. Mentors say the same thing. So, we’ve pulled together some tips and suggestions to help you feel relaxed and confident before you meet your potential mentor for the first time.

Before you meet

  • Send your mentor your CV and a short note describing your work and perhaps some of your personal circumstances. Include a word of thanks for being part of Kilfinan and being willing to meet. Ask them what brought them to mentoring. 
  • Give your mentor an idea of what you’d like to focus on and let your mentor know what’s on your mind. Keep it simple but specific. For example, “I’m really interested in talking to you about my Board and how I can get more out of them” or “I’m not sure I’m ready to be a CEO and I’m scared someone is going to find out” (lots of people say this!).
  • Do a bit of online research of the person you are meeting to learn their background and interests (but maybe stick to LinkedIn and Google rather than stalking their Facebook page).
  • Ask your mentor how they want to be contacted – text, email, WhatsApp? Do they have an EA? Confirm the meeting time, date and venue a day or two in advance. Suggest how long you have available to meet, as this will give you both some sense of control for the first meeting. 
  • Relax. They want to get to know you. 

During the first meeting

  • First up, be on time!  If you are running late, please text or call.
  • The first meeting is where you will get a sense of each other. What’s important is not just what you say, but also how you find it being in each other’s company: Are they a good listener? Do they have something to say? Do I feel a connection? Both of you are finding out about each other. The meeting is a chance to explore each other’s personality,  communication, and style – not just the topics you might discuss. Try not to be too self conscious. 
  • Talk about your career journey, your professional background and the current situation at your organisation. Help your mentor understand you by sharing the important details of your life. You bring so much to this relationship, so help them understand what else is going on. Ageing parents? Moving house?  Flood damage? A football team that never wins? The big and small things affect us all.  It’s ok to talk about this type of information. Share your personal and professional goals. A mentor doesn’t need to know everything about you but it’s helpful to know about your challenges, where you are confident, what keeps you awake at night. 
  • Ask questions of your mentor. Why are they sitting in front of you? Ask them to tell you about their professional background, and what they are proud of. Ask them who and what helped them to succeed.  
  • Let your personality come through. This isn’t a job interview. We can’t stress this enough. You have already been matched because we think you have something to offer each other. 
  • Lastly, keep session one on time. If you are getting toward the end, then suggest you finish up.

After the first meeting 

  • When you walk away, spend some time thinking about how it went. Did you see a connection? Enjoy the conversation? Feel like you were listened to?  They will be thinking the same questions about you. 
  • Follow with a brief thank-you note and express your appreciation for specific insights or examples that you found helpful.  This kind of feedback is very helpful as it lets your mentor know what you value.
  • We will contact you separately to confirm whether you are interested in proceeding.  If so, you will both sign a mentoring agreement, which outlines your mutual expectations and obligations to each other. Then it’s time to start working together. We know how much you’ll get out of it!