Better than a thousand days of diligent study is the one day with a great teacher– Japanese Proverb
To get off on the right foot with mentoring, you need to know what your needs are. There are three important components to setting up your relationship. Planning up front on your part, communication throughout the relationship and coaching. The better you understand your needs upfront the more likely you mentoring relationship will be a success.
In terms of planning, the first question to ask yourself is what are my areas of need? Is it technology? Is it leadership? Once you have identified your needs you can then think about what you want to get out of the realtionship and what you can give to the relationship.
Speaking of what you can get and give. Communication is the ultimate piece to a mentoring relationship. Questions to ask yourself are; how coachable am I? What is my communication style? In what areas can I provide value to my mentor? How do I want to be held accountable? In the beginning you want o evaluate your mentor's communication style to make sure that it is a good fit for you. Some people like tough love. Others can't deal with it. I can't stress the importance of making this a two way relationship. The more you give of yourself and your experience, the more you will get from your mentor in return. A good mentor will ask these questions and evaluate where you are at.
The mentoring relationship works best when the mentor lets you decide what the plan of attack is in your areas of need and allows you to ultimately make decisions. You don't want a relationship where someone just tells you what to do and when to do it. You want your mentor to hold you accountable and let you know when you aren't living up to your end of the bargain. The coaching aspect will be the key to everything that you implement.
These are what I think are the most critical aspects of the mentoring relationship. Take a look at mentoring relationships that you have observed in the past. Like the proverb at the beginning says. You can spend a lot of time learning things on your own or you can go right to the source and be ahead of the game that much faster. A great mentoring relationship has the ability to impact your life forever. What mentoring realtionships have worked for you in the past? What was good about them?