Posts Tagged ‘mentoring’

Mentor and Be Mentored.

December 14, 2016

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Beliefs about mentorship are drastically shifting. Mentorship is no longer focused on guiding those “below us” on the totem pole. It is now focused on using our own expertise to teach those around us, helping them to flourish and prosper. With this idea of mentorship in mind, it is safe to say, regardless of our ages, titles or years of work experience, we each have something we can learn from one another.

Mentorship is about building a mutually-beneficial relationship between two individuals through which both parties are collaboratively learning and growing. That being said, you are never too young or too old to have a mentor, or maybe even a “board” of mentors. So, if you haven’t already, start now!

Finding the Perfect Mentors

  1. Understand your needs as a mentee.

There are many different kinds of mentors; there are coaches, connectors, cheerleaders and challengers, just to name a few. When searching for a mentor, it is important for you to understand your needs and goals, and seek a mentor that will help you fulfill them.

  1. Pursue someone who is your opposite.

Although it may feel uncomfortable at first, those that differ from you can often offer you the most diverse knowledge and most insightful advice. For instance, a big trend in today’s business world is reverse mentoring, when Baby Boomers their opposites, Millennials, as mentors.

  1. Don’t be so focused on a person’s title.

Alexa von Tobel, the CEO and founder of LearnVest claims, “It’s about the person, not their position.” When searching for a mentor, take into consideration a person’s experiences and expertise, not just their title.

Being an Awesome Mentor

  1. Set relationship expectations.

Sit down with your mentee at the beginning of your relationship and discuss expectations. This will ensure that you are both on the same page. Express to your mentee that you will do all you can to help them achieve their goals, but be sure to NEVER make a promise that you can’t keep.

  1. Be invested in your mentee.

Show interest in their lives, ask questions, celebrate their achievements and, most importantly, LISTEN! These gestures and actions, no matter how small, will strengthen the bond you have with your mentee and enhance your relationship ten-fold.

  1. At all times, be honest.

Just as in any relationship, honesty is key! No matter what the issue or question, provide your mentee with honest, not sugar-coated, advice. Also, do not be afraid to admit your mistakes and failures, as you have learned from them, and they can help your mentee learn too.

Building your network while helping others is a two-way street

January 20, 2016

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The first month of the New Year is an excellent time to meet new professionals or to reconnect with those individuals we have helped or who have assisted us.  During January and February, I will find room in my calendar for at least two dozen meetings over coffee, lunches or happy hours.

I might be one of the luckiest guys alive or the biggest sucker for meeting new people, hearing their personal and professional stories and trying to see how I might lend a hand.  I have been doing this for decades, and I think it is the “curiosity” of being a former news reporter and Congressional  staffer.

These networking / mentoring sessions have made me a smarter, richer person.  More times than not, I receive far more than I offer.

No matter how busy you are, I encourage you to make time for others.  It will benefit you in many, many ways over the years.  Instead of deleting those invitations to trade association, alumni or office happy hours, take a chance and put your best foot forward.

The benefits of networking are endless, but here are some specific ways I am richer for meeting new people or staying in touch with my associates:

There are people I have met over the years who I enjoy getting together with for coffee or lunch and comparing notes about current events, the state of advocacy and communications, or other topics.

  • I needed a contact at a specific pharmaceutical company for a non-profit client and I turned to LinkedIn to see who might work there or be connected to the firm. I emailed a connection (a former client from the past) and within an hour I was emailing with the pharmaceutical company executive in charge.
  • I visited a Congressional contact from some years ago at his current place of employment, and it turns out my agency had a solution to some specific needs of his organization. They are now my second-largest client.
  • People I have helped when they graduated from college or who were between jobs are now hiring managers and I am able to refer promising professionals to them for job opportunities.
  • I went to lunch with a grassroots professional as a favor to an associate who wanted to know if he was experienced enough to teach an online course. I was blown away by his talent. He is now teaching in the program and we have partnered on several projects that benefit the government relations profession.

Here are some of the ways you can get involved in networking and mentoring:

  • Take a chance and attend a happy hour or event with an organization you have wondered about and might like to join.
  • Exchange your business card with interesting people there and follow up via email to see if a follow up meeting might be warranted.
  • Contact your alma mater to see if any students or young alumni need some career guidance or a guest speaker.
  • Tweet or post your professional insights so others might learn from you and your experiences. One of my friend in PRSA is actually tweeting a “mentoring tip of the day” throughout January.

There seems to be a new awakening after the holiday break and a newfound enthusiasm to start off 2016 with some resounding successes. It is not too late to get started.

Mike Fulton directs the Washington, D.C. office of the Asher Agency (www.asheragency.com) and teaches Public Affairs IMC 638 at the master’s level for West Virginia University’s Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) program.

Connect with Mike at mikef@asheragency.com; @hillrat1156 or on LinkedIn.