AUTHOR:
Abby P.

DATE:
September 1, 2015

CATEGORIES:
Success from the Start

READING TIME:
3 minutes

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Mentors: 4 Reasons to Establish Professional Relationships

AUTHOR:
Abby P.

DATE:
September 1, 2015

CATEGORIES:
Success from the Start

READING TIME:
3 minutes

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” – Benjamin Franklin

The best way to grow a career often is similar to how you learn best – by being involved. I'd challenge you to be involved throughout your career in a number of ways, from joining professional organizations and societies to attending workshops and networking in your field. In my career, I've found that being involved has presented me with ample learning opportunities; often times, introducing me to other professionals who've become my mentors.

If you have a mentor, odds are that person isn't your direct supervisor. On the surface, supervisors and mentors often seem to have similar roles with duties that may, in fact, overlap. They help you set and achieve goals, offer guidance, and serve as a role model.

The foundation of each role is where they really differ. Generally, supervisors have the formal role of evaluating your work, providing regular performance feedback, and helping ensure you are doing the job you were hired to do for the good of the company.

On the other hand, mentors bring something different to the table. Mentors enter into a professional relationship to share their experiences and aid the professional development of the mentee. Many times, the mentor doesn't receive any tangible benefit from the relationship. Although, mentors do often report learning just as much from their mentees.

If that’s not reason enough for you to want to establish a mentoring relationship, maybe one of these will inspire you:

My Top 4 Reasons for Establishing Mentoring Relationships

1. Bouncing ideas off a sounding board.

Having a mentor gives you someone to bounce ideas off of, whether you find that mentor inside or outside of where you work.

When you’re just starting out in the workplace, a mentor at the office can help you adjust to expectations. They can be a familiar face in the office, help you make connections to others at work, and serve as a role model for how to succeed in the company culture.

Mentors outside of your company offer different value. At the end of the day, they won’t be evaluating your work and most likely they won't know those you work with. That puts them in the unique position of being able to offer advice on workplace challenges, such as managing stress, asking for a promotion, and negotiating job offers. In these difficult situations, mentors are often a great source to build your confidence in facing and overcoming hurdles.

2. Planning your career for the long term.

Mentors also can help you develop a strategic career plan for the long term. Your mentors likely will have more career or life experience than you. They can give you an idea on how their career has progressed – the highlights and pitfalls. They can help you identify skills you need to develop, share mistakes they’ve made so you can avoid them, and help outline next steps to take.

3. Lifelong learning.

Even though some of us may not believe it, individually, we don’t have all the answers. Engaging in a mentoring relationship can open our eyes and ears to another perspective. Being open to another point of view helps build our understanding of other people and is seen as a trait of a great leader.

The learning doesn’t stop in your current mentor relationship either. You’ll continue to learn as you act on your mentor's advice and pass that wisdom along when it's your turn to mentor someone else.

4. Growing your network.

Because of their experience, mentors can also be a great way to grow your network. Mentors don’t have to be fantastic at every skill you are interested in. If they don’t have that knowledge, they may know someone who does. You may find a new mentor or two as a result.

I highly recommend seeking out a mentor – sooner rather than later. More likely than not, at some point in your career, you are going to be in a situation in which you will wish you had that go-to person in your corner.

Now that you know why you need a mentor, in my next post, I’ll give my best tips for how to identify mentors.


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Abby P.

Internal Communications Lead

Abby graduated from The Ohio State University, where she studied strategic communications and Spanish. She now works as the internal communications lead at Reynolds and she is a specialist in corporate messaging, personal branding and professional development. Outside of the office, Abby enjoys cheering on Buckeyes football, playing in recreational sand volleyball leagues, and spending time with family and friends.