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The Importance of Mentorship

No mat­ter your indus­try or what you’ve achieved in your career, know that you can always ben­e­fit from hav­ing a men­tor. And like­ly, some­one else could ben­e­fit from hav­ing you as a men­tor as well. But why? Why is men­tor­ing so valu­able? And how do you find a men­tor or become one? Read on, and my col­leagues and I, will answer these questions.

“They’re like mag­ic mirrors”

For many, one of the great­est ben­e­fits that come from hav­ing a men­tor is that they offer a unique third-par­ty per­spec­tive that would be impos­si­ble to get any oth­er way. Jeff Mah­mud, adver­tis­ing account exec­u­tive at the Min­neapo­lis-St. Paul Busi­ness Jour­nal says, “Great men­tors are like mag­ic mir­rors you don’t always want to look at. Either it shows you some­thing you don’t want to see or some­thing you can’t see your­self. Either way, they are the ones who help you see your­self more clearly.”

And see­ing one­self more clear­ly can cer­tain­ly help us iden­ti­fy areas that need improve­ment so we can become bet­ter lead­ers, employ­ees, and human beings, but it can also help us take a step back and see just how amaz­ing we are as well. Now while this post isn’t about women specif­i­cal­ly, March is Women’s His­to­ry Month and it’s worth point­ing out that 75% of women exec­u­tives sur­veyed in a recent KPMG study expe­ri­ence imposter syn­drome, often defined as a col­lec­tion of feel­ings of inad­e­qua­cy that per­sist despite evi­dent suc­cess. Men­tor­ship can be an effec­tive tool to com­bat imposter syndrome.

Jamie Gassmann, direc­tor of mar­ket­ing for R3 Con­tin­u­um, shares: “I have had the absolute plea­sure to be men­tored by Lin­da Sig­gau, the co-own­er and cre­ator of the com­pa­ny Expe­ri­ence Hap­pi­ness. She has helped to shape me as a bet­ter mar­keter and female leader. Lin­da has been an inspi­ra­tion and helped me see myself through a dif­fer­ent lens both as a per­son and a pro­fes­sion­al. I’m a bet­ter per­son over­all because of her. She has helped me to be a more con­fi­dent female leader, to believe in myself, to have more of an exec­u­tive pres­ence, iden­ti­fy the signs of burnout and to advo­cate for myself. I believe all lead­ers should have a coach/mentor they can learn from, who can help them grow per­son­al­ly and pro­fes­sion­al­ly — some­one who can help you work on your flaws and show­case your strengths.”

Jen Bell­mont, Bell­mont Part­ners COO (and one of my per­son­al men­tors!) agrees: “I’d say the biggest impact my men­tor had on me was mak­ing me believe in myself and instill­ing con­fi­dence, teach­ing me to trust my gut. That advice was more poignant than any indus­try-relat­ed tips she shared. And I try to do the same for oth­ers as often as I can.”

Who can be a mentor?

In short — any­one! Pro­fes­sion­al­ly, the men­tors who have had the great­est impact on me were also peo­ple I worked along­side or report­ed to – peo­ple like Sara Cziok, Lau­ra Boyd, HaiVy Thomp­son and Liz Nick­los. And when I was in grad­u­ate school, my pro­fes­sors, espe­cial­ly Mar­co Yzer and Bri­an South­well played that role.

But, as Mah­mud points out, “It’s impor­tant to remem­ber that great men­tors don’t need to be supe­ri­ors. They can be peers or even peo­ple who report to you. Some­times they prove to be the most impactful.”

So, if you’re look­ing for a men­tor or a mentee, you might not need to look very hard. There are like­ly peo­ple in your life already who can play this role, either for­mal­ly or infor­mal­ly. There are also more for­mal­ized men­tor­ship pro­grams you can find through a lit­tle bit of research – typ­i­cal­ly affil­i­at­ed with schools, net­work­ing groups, or indus­try pro­fes­sion­al associations.

One final note: Not all mentor/mentee rela­tion­ships are going to be the right fit! And that’s OK. You should gen­uine­ly feel com­fort­able con­sult­ing your men­tor to process oth­er aspects of your life – not just career-relat­ed goals or chal­lenges. If you’re not, we’d encour­age you to seek out anoth­er trust­ed con­tact. And it’s def­i­nite­ly okay – even ben­e­fi­cial – to have mul­ti­ple peo­ple you con­sid­er mentors.

 

If you’re search­ing for a men­tor in the com­mu­ni­ca­tions space, feel free to drop us a line! We’d love to try and help make a con­nec­tion for you.

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