What to expect from your first mentoring meeting
We go to great lengths to find our entrepreneurs the right mentor, from our rigorous selection process, to our state-of-the-art matching software. But once matched, what’s that first meeting between mentor and mentee like?
A formal mentoring relationship is not something that most people have experienced, so to avoid any awkwardness at that first meeting, we asked two mentors and one of our entrepreneurs, all of whom have been through the process, to share their tips on how you can make the most of the experience.
John Treharne – Founder, The Gym Group - Mentor
Philip Beahon – Founder, Castore - Entrepreneur
Dessy Tsolova – Founder, Utelier - Mentor
Did you do any research on your partner or prepare for your first meeting in any way?
Philip: Yes, we wanted to ensure we were best prepared to take as much as possible out of the meeting.
Dessy: Yes, I visited their website and social media links and any other info that one can find over the internet to familiarise myself with them. I looked for immediate areas where I thought I could be of help and add value to them.
What did you want to get out of the meeting?
John: Much better insight into the product and proposition and the needs of the business in both the short and medium term.
Dessy: We had a chat over the phone – I used the opportunity to start to get to know each other. I talked about my background and how I believed I could be of help to them.
Philip: Advice on marketing and brand development.
How long after receiving your loan did you meet your mentor?
Philip: 3 months – we wanted to ensure we were best placed to get as much as possible out of meeting with John.
Where did you first meet your mentor/mentee and why did you choose that location?
Philip: John’s office in Vauxhall - convenient for us both.
Dessy: A café – a neutral territory that makes the meeting more relaxed and informal.
How did you feel before the meeting?
Philip: Excited to be given the opportunity to meet somebody with John’s experience.
John: Optimistic I could help, after the two briefing calls we’d had.
What did you talk about when you first met?
Dessy: Initial general chat and then focussed on areas that were flagged up in the initial call; we also agreed on the basics of how the relationship will work.
How long was the first meeting?
Dessy: 90 mins
John: 70 mins
What did you ask your partner at the first meeting?
Dessy: Tell me what made you start this business, How did you do it, How did you get here – what were the challenges – what did you most enjoy/ struggle with, Where do you want to be, Who are your competitors – how are you different from them, What do you think your challenges are now, How do you think you are doing at this moment?
How did you feel after the meeting?
Philip: John was extremely helpful and we believe he can help us add significant value to the business in the long term. He has agreed to meet up whenever is convenient and was genuinely interested in the proposition.
Dessy: I think I have good understanding with them, I may not be their ideal customer and I don’t have to be, but so far the relationship seems to be working out well – they’re making progress.
John: Positive that I could help.