I was able to meet my career Shero recently and it caused me to reflect on the importance of mentorship and networking. What is a career shero? Well my career shero is someone who is doing what I want to do and doing exceptionally well. She is a powerhouse. She has found a way to blend her legal interests and her communications interests into an enviable career in crisis management. Over the years she has held jobs in both arenas and has started her own firm and doing what she loves. She took each opportunity as they came, learned from the and was able to parlay the skills developed and lessons learned into a fruitful and enjoyable career. Not only was she able to succeed in her career she has maintained a family life. Meeting this person was hard because as you can imagine she’s very busy and has gained a fair bit of notoriety. This caused me to reflect on the many excellent professionals I have come across on my journey and the importance of mentorship.
Giving and receiving mentorship is extremely important to professional and personal development. Mentorship usually starts inadvertently. When we’re younger certain people take special interest in our futures and make the effort to provide guidance and we do the same for others. As we become more career focused, we all tend to seek out mentors doing what we want to do but I encourage you not to limit yourself. Amass as many mentors as possible. A person invested in your success is more valuable than someone in your field who is only moderately interested in answering questions or too busy to provide substantive guidance. Over time our career paths take a lot of unexpected turns, they are a constantly evolving process. Everyone you meet and connect with add value and perspective to your experience. Just as important as finding good mentors is being a mentor to others. As a mentor, you have an opportunity to help someone progress in their career. Providing guidance, a listening ear, making connections, etc is important to the progress of professionalism and an opportunity to help those behind you navigate their career path.
I have benefitted immensely from the guidance and kindness of a series of people from a variety of different fields and at various stages in their careers. I am always open to the advice of another, their experiences always have a lesson that can be applied to my life. Many of my “mentees” have been just as much mentee as mentor. I can attribute much of my success to the men and women who have taken an interest in my success. I have called upon these people for everything from a pep talk, to a reference, to job assistance. And I in turn have been there for them, as an assistant, a friend, and often a sounding board. Mentorship is about relationship building and I am grateful each of these relationships.
I just want to encourage everyone to amass as many mentors and mentees as possible. Learn from their strengths, set an example, and build relationships that will be mutually beneficial. Also make sure to maintain these relationships, even if its just a quarterly update email to keep the lines of communication open.
“Leaders..should influence others..in such a way that it builds people up, encourages and edifies them so they can duplicate this attitude in others.”