When I started this business 20 years ago, I relied on a group of trusted advisors and mentors to help me find my way. I owe my health start – and my longevity -- to those early supporters like Gayle Saldinger, Robbie Hardy, Rollie Tillman and Monica Doss. They guided me as I navigated my way through business ownership, helped me make valuable connections, and pushed me to stretch myself and grow my business. Back then, I wasn’t sure why they were so invested in me. But when I started mentoring others, I got it. It feels great!
National Mentoring Month
One of the people I’m mentoring now is Faith Inman, a senior at William Peace University. Faith’s pursuing a career in sports and I’ve enjoyed helping her grow her skills, her network and her leadership capacity. I’m proud to announce that she landed a great job after graduation, working for USA Baseball. And I’m thrilled at the prospect of continuing to work with her as she embarks on this next phase.
In observance of National Mentoring Month, Faith and I share some advice for working with a mentor:
1. Get to know your mentor.
Faith: Learn about their experiences. Ask questions. You gain knowledge about their industry, the real world, careers, and real-life projects that your mentor has to complete. When I read the columns and stories Margot writes, I’m more motivated to work hard and pursue writing opportunities. It opens a new window of opportunity and empowerment for me.
Margot: Faith asks me about the projects I’m working on, what it’s like to run my business, how I solve problems and what trends are driving the marketing/communication industry. This gives her an up-close look at me, my business and my field. Your mentor is a trusted resource and advisor, so don’t be afraid to ask questions you might not ask a parent, professor or prospective employer.
2. Keep in touch.
Faith: See the relationship as a good friendship. Put in the effort of helping your mentor as much as they help you. Meet frequently to discuss new ideas and goals. Margot and I frequently meet for coffee, trade emails, and connect via social media. This helps me keep up with her life!
Margot: Try not to contact your mentor only when you need something. Faith does a great job of checking in with me via various channels with updates, articles, invitations and questions. She also arranged for me to address a student group and has assisted me when I’ve made presentations. All this shows that she’s invested in me, too. Ask your mentor about the best ways to contact them, and always be looking for ways you can help them. When in doubt, ask!
3. Listen and trust.
Faith: Mentors want to see you shine, so give them 110%. They are available for advice, constructive criticism, and other input to make you a better person. It’s imperative to appreciate them for the help they’re giving you and to follow through. My mentor has helped me grow as a person and professional. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without her!
Margot: There’s nothing worse for a mentor than feeling that your counsel is falling on deaf ears. I’m not saying you have to do everything your mentor says, but you do have to listen and consider everything your mentor says. That’s part of the contract. Faith is conscientious about acknowledging when I've helped her by sending a thank-you note or giving me a shout-out on Twitter and Linkedin.