Looking for Meaningful Connections

The greatest value of mentoring is adding wisdom to the world, says Jeff Ryzner, award-winning mentor and president of North Forge Technology Exchange.

“People are looking for meaningful connections,” he shares during a recent lunch and learn with the Relish staff. “You can help bring out the best in someone else with your willingness to share your experience… the things that went well and the things that went horribly.”

Mentorship is always a two-way street between mentor and mentee, he says. As a mentor, you are learning as much as those you are mentoring. “The best mentors love to be mentored.”

Mentoring is more listening than talking, but when it’s time to speak up, the most important question mentors can ask is “Why?” Ryzner says. The most important answer? “I don’t know.”

“As a mentor, you don’t have to have all the answers. You may be able to connect them with someone who knows, and that is just as important.”

Mentors should also refrain from telling people what to do – it’s about helping mentees arrive at the answers on their own.

“The greatest thing mentorship offers is diversity of thought,” he says. “You can help them evaluate their choices, but if you do tell them what to do, you risk the relationship if doing things your way doesn’t work. You may be able to offer something that unlocks the answer.”

Sometimes mentor/mentee relationships don’t work out, and that’s okay, he explains. “You’re not getting personally ditched.” Set clear expectations up front to help guide your path together, including when it’s time to go your separate ways.

Mentorship is an easy way to give back, he says. “It’s an endless cycle of pay-it-forward.”