This Wall Street Journal article, How to Be a Smart Protégé, is an excellent quick guide to mentoring. The authors offer eight tips. My favorite is.
6. Make It Mutual.
Mentoring networks involve shared learning between two people. Too many people enter the relationships thinking of themselves as plebeian protégés who get support. Savvys, on the other hand, realize they have something to offer their mentors, too, and help them out whenever they can—which gives the other person a deeper vested interest in them.
One Savvy, a technology consultant, describes how she fostered relationships with three senior colleagues: "If I saw a senior consultant who was swamped with something, and I realized that I didn't necessarily have the computer intellect to be on his level there, but I could type really fast and I could be creative and design the presentation, and I could help with all the interviewing, I said as much to him. I said to him, 'Listen, I'd like to help you out if you'd like it.'"
Now, let me turn this on its head. As a guy in his mid-fifties, I make the assumption that I don't know anything. I seek out people in their twenties and thirties to learn new things.
The key for us seasoned veterans is to make learning mutual, not simply instructing the protégé.The benefits are beyond your imagining.