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I have been assigned a mentor recently. He is a high up regional executive referred by an acquaintance. It's been a month and he has taken me out to lunch once to get to know me. The reason I was assigned to him is to eventually get into his line of business, not necessary in his department. During lunch we shared with each other what we do and how we get to where we are today. And I also shared with him different opportunities I am working on within the company. After the lunch we decided we will meet again in three months to catch up. My questions is:

1) My goal is to ultimately get into his line of business. How do I make it clear and utilize his support? It's nice to have lunch with someone from time to time. But if that person is not working for me or not clear of what I am looking for, it's difficult to get this goal accomplished.

2) Beside lunch, what else should I do to engage him so he knows more about me and build trust? I am sure eventually I will ask him to speak for me but I want to make sure he is comfortable doing that.

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what else should I do to engage him so he knows more about me and build trust?

You are colleagues, not friends (doesn't mean that you never will be, but it should not be a goal). Your relationship should be primary work-related and your trust will grow as spend more time working together. Don't get me wrong though, time spent out of the office is important as-well for coworkers, but it should not be required at all for someone to mentor you properly.

My goal is to alternately get into his line of business. How do I make it clear and utilize his support

You already answered it yourself, really:

The reason I was assigned to him is to eventually get into his line of business

He was hired to do it, you should not have to make it clear, his manager should have made it clear to him. If you feel that he's not meeting your expectations then you can notify his manager and tell him that there might have been a confusion when it came to describe your mentor's task.

You can, however, ask your mentor something like:

You've been assigned to mentor me, what are your expectations of me once your task is complete and how do you intend to educate me so that I will meet those expectations?

so that you'll have an identical knowledge of what he's intending to do with you.

Don't over-think the activities you should do together, just make sure that his goal is to actually mentor you and understand that trust comes with time.

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1) My goal is to ultimately get into his line of business. How do I make it clear and utilize his support? It's nice to have lunch with someone from time to time. But if that person is not working for me or not clear of what I am looking for, it's difficult to get this goal accomplished.

How clear are you about what roles within his line of business would suit you well? How clear are you about what opportunities you'd like to pursue in his area? What support are you expecting from him: Look for opportunities for you, put in a good word, help you develop your skills, help you figure out your passions, or something else? While you want his support, how clear are you of what this would look like? This would be where I'd focus as the, "I want to work in your line of business," may well be quite vague to my mind.

2) Beside lunch, what else should I do to engage him so he knows more about me and build trust? I am sure eventually I will ask him to speak for me but I want to make sure he is comfortable doing that.

While you could have coffee or other food and drink engagements, I'd focus more on the conversation, action items and other stuff to deepen the relationship. Perhaps you could ask him for little things to do to show your skills? Perhaps you could offer assistance on things to demonstrate your value?

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My goal is to alternately get into his line of business. How do I make it clear and utilize his support?

Did you try asking him point blank when you had lunch with him? If you don't say anything,he doesn't know anything about you. If you don't ask anything, you won't know anything. If you don't ask for anything, you won't get anything.

After the lunch we decided we will meet again in three months to catch up.

I don't know what the two of you are up to,but this is not my idea of mentoring in real time. Are the two of you making any effort to keep in touch within those three months? The whole point of having a mentor is to be able to get some ideas from the mentor, get some feedback from the mentor in a timely way if not in real time. Unless you are moving toward your goals at a real stately pace, that is. Frankly, I see contacting such a key person as a mentor every three months as a joke on the concept of mentoring. If it's not fast paced,if it's not intensive,if it's not aggressive and it's not in real time, then the mentoring is not all that credible. The two of us need to rub your energies on each other, and move with the aggressiveness of an armor unit, the audacity of a parachute unit and the terminal effectiveness of a commando unit. If I were your mentor, you'd have my cell number. And I'd have yours. And you could call me or leave me a voice mail 7x24.

... what else should I do to engage him so he knows more about me and build trust?

You engage him by bouncing ideas off him and asking him for his feedback in real time. You keep him apprised of your progress and you are not shy about asking him for advice. And if you don't happen to like his advice, you ask him what assumptions and presumptions he made when he gave the advice. Learning how to look at things in different ways and from different angles is no small thing.

You don't have the answers, so at least, you need to show that you are asking sharp, searching, no nonsense questions. If you want the right kind of answers, you have to know the right questions to ask. On occasion,I have asked questions that totally motivated the answer provider to want me to be at their side, backing them up.

If you know how to ask the right questions, you can become your mentor's sanity check and sounding board. There will be times when you will be valuable to your mentor both because of your ignorance and because of your ability, starting from a zero baseline of knowledge, to work out sound and credible answers.

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Here are a couple of articles that I find useful on the difference between mentors and advocates:

For the most part, I see that companies very deliberately set up "mentoring programs" - where the mentor is expected to be willing to give advice, give a strong perspective on the situation (the environment of the business, the roles available in the organization, the activities required to get to a given role). But they may NOT be advocates - in other words they may not actively engage in making sure that the opportunities you need to build the role you want will actually happen. If they do, it is a fortunate circumstance.

That's not to say that the role of a mentor is useless - having the understanding they can give you about how to be successful and what the work looks like in different parts of the company can both give you the hard-to-find knowledge to advocate for yourself and also can give you insight on whether you'd even be happy in a given role - so you can get a sense of the work before you commit to something that may or may not make you happy in your job.

I'll say that in my experience my mentors have often made themselves my advocates, without saying much to me about it or without their actions being overly visible until I looked back on them later. The part that was visible to me was the good advice and keen insights and occassionally direct feedback.

A way to get the mentor mentoring is to ask questions and be open to the feedback. Query the guy about what roles are available? How does one get into this business? What are the skill gaps between your work today and the qualifications of that role? How can doing your current work in a certain way accelerate your progress towards that role.

One of the nice things about mentoring is it IS very you-centered - they are there to help you...

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