Business leaders often have a lot to teach others based on their history of success and extensive repertoire of experience. This is why they get referenced or shadowed many times by other professionals hoping to earn valuable insights. There are many steps and milestones these senior leaders have to achieve to attain their current success. Gaining an understanding into how these professionals have become successful is going to be significant for your career – even if you are a senior leader yourself. With these factors considered, here are several tips that can help you optimise your relationship with a professional mentor.

Show that You Have a Purpose

Great business leaders are more passionate about helping you learn when you have a defined goal you are trying to reach. Whether you are planning to start a project or introduce a new innovation, stand by your goals and show that you’re committed to them. This will create a more purposeful experience, and they will see that you’re serious about improving your career.

Instead of asking multiple questions all at once, focus on a specific one that you want your mentor to answer. You may be looking to develop your ability to promote your business, or become a better salesperson. Regardless, formulating your question around one purpose can make the entire learning experience more beneficial. Your mentor can also formulate their learning plan around your goal and ensure you gain valuable, relevant insights.

Be Direct in Your Communication

The purpose of a leader is to grow and develop your career. Do not hesitate to be direct in communicating with them. Let them know what issues are affecting your learning experience and address it. They will appreciate the clarity and can adjust their approach to maximize your experience. They will always prefer to accommodate you rather than waste their time and efforts on an unproductive learning experience.

Value Your Time and Theirs

Time is a luxury to many successful leaders. This means not all of them will have the time for long meetings or dinners. The best time to meet with most business leaders is early in the morning, before the busiest hours of the day start. You can invite them for a quick morning meeting or phone appointment during these hours. The early morning hours are also the best times for productive discussions since professionals are just starting their day and their minds are fresh.

Discuss Other Venues

Many leaders are also obliged to participate or make appearances at other events as well. After all, in order to grow and promote their team or business, it is important for them to engage with the industry. The leader you are learning from is likely going to be no different. As you work with them, you can casually ask them if they are planning to make appearances at any upcoming events. They may even be speakers or trade show organisers as well. You can kindly ask if they can extend an invite to you as well. They may actually appreciate your interest and if invited, you have an additional opportunity to learn what they do and gain insights from it.

Display Your Appreciation

There are various ways to show gratitude to professionals who provide you with advice. You can leave them a thank-you note, send them an email, or give them a short call. In some cases, a present or gift is acceptable, especially if you have a close relationship with your leader. You can also offer to do a favor in return, such as referring them to a business network or inviting them to another conference from your circle. These tokens of appreciation will go a long way towards expanding your relationship with them.

Be Part of Their Network

A successful leader is likely going to have a large network around them. If you are genuinely interested in developing a lasting partnership with them, then do not pass up a chance to join their network as well. Within their network, you may have the opportunity to meet other professionals or business leaders who can further help expand your career.

In any industry, business management is about recognizing opportunities and learning to engage with others. Part of developing these skills is learning from established professionals and senior leaders. Your experience is significant for developing your career, which means getting the most out of this experience is important.

By building a good rapport with your chosen leader and having a clear purpose in mind, maximises your learning experience. Consider these tips the next time you are provided a chance to work with and learn from a successful leader.

To speak to Brooker Consulting about professional development opportunities, please contact us on +61 3 9602 1666or email