This National Mentoring Day, Please Try Mentoring – For Your Own Sake!

Written by PushFar's CEO, Ed Johnson. Use this opportunity to find your mentor, volunteer to mentor others and say thank you to those mentors who've helped you.

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On Tuesday 27th October it is officially National Mentoring Day, a day to celebrate the wonderful benefits of mentoring, praise and recognise those who proactively mentor and for those being mentored to acknowledge all of the wonderous knowledge, skills and experience they have undoubtedly gained from their mentors. As far as I’m concerned, every day should be a national mentoring day. In fact, every day should be world mentoring day. I’m a little biased though. As the CEO of PushFar, the world’s largest open mentoring platform, I do come at mentoring from a heavily involved and invested position. That hasn’t always been the case though.

Wind back the clocks three years and, at the age of 23, I was rather lost in my career. I was the acting Head of Digital for a successful online venture, I was on a comfortable salary and seemingly in a strong position for the career ahead of me. I hadn’t been to university and I dropped out of school mid-way through my A Levels, to pursue a career in the tech sector; technology and online connectivity has always fascinated me. I’d built up my career and learnt what I now know from online tutorials, networking and working experiences at a number of companies. But as I sat looking at my computer in October 2017, I felt lost. I had no real direction, I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do to develop or evolve, or who I could turn to for important career progression advice, insights and guidance. The answer back then, which has subsequently become rather a thriving, enjoyable (albeit incredibly challenging at times) and exciting business, was mentoring.

Mentor [noun]:
“A mentor is someone who shares their knowledge, skills and experience to help another person to progress.”

So, in October 2017 I set out looking for a mentor to help guide me as to how I could develop my entrepreneurial flair, interest in social technologies and in guiding me in my career. It was a real challenge. I tried networking, approaching several experienced individuals and others I had previously connected with in my relatively short career. I failed to find a mentor, but at the same time I had identified an opportunity. Finding a mentor is a real challenge.

For those of you reading this who have been to university or who work for larger organisations that are invested in running mentoring programmes and schemes, you are extremely fortunate to have such easy access to mentoring. Please, take advantage of the incredible people who give up their time, experience and insights to offer mentoring and find yourself a mentor. If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to mentoring, here is a really quick and bite-sized four-point guide to being mentored:

1. Find the right mentor – this often is not the most senior person in an organisation. This should be someone who is in the role you want to be in 2-3 years from now. Someone who has worked or continues to work in the industry you are in or industry you want to be in.

2. Set expectations with them – There’s honestly no point in finding a mentor who you expect is going to be able to promote you or get you a pay rise (yes, these may come as a result of the mentoring experience you gain but a mentor is there to share their knowledge, NOT get you promoted). Discuss with your mentor what your goals over the next 6-to-12 months are and where you need help. These can be general goals, guidance or support with specific challenges.

3. Meet regularly – Mentoring is done best when you meet with your mentor every 3-4 weeks. A monthly meeting is a great starting point. Schedule meetings in advance and always set an agenda for them. As the mentee (the person being mentored) it is your responsibility to get meetings in the diary. Make sure you do!

4. Work towards achievable monthly goals – Yes, an overall goal is great and should be in the back of your mind but achievable monthly goals are really important in ensuring you feel you are making progress and will give you things to discuss with your mentor.

That’s it! That is all you need to do to make mentoring work for you. Of course, there is a lot more that you can do to read-up on mentoring and make mentoring the best it can be, but those four key points are a great place to start.

And for those of you out there who have at least 6-months experience in the working world (yes, that’s right 6+ months is all you need), I urge you to consider becoming a mentor and sharing your experience, knowledge and skills with others. For those of you who think you need to be highly-successful, have achieved the unachievable or be at least 50 years-old to be a good mentor, consider this – if you have 6+ months experience in the working world, you have the perfect insights to help someone who’s just leaving school, college or university to break into work and get their career off to a strong start. Your 6+ months experience is the perfect guide for those who have no idea where to begin.

For those of you with 1, 5, 10, 15 or 20+ years’ experience – with every day that you are working, you are learning, and your experience can be extremely valuable to others. Share that experience! Not only is mentoring a highly rewarding thing to do, but it can help you to go further in your own career too. Not convinced? Here are 5 reasons why you might want to mentor others-

1. You will learn new skills – Yes, when you mentor others, you will be amazed at what you’ll learn from your mentor. You’ll learn new skills from them and quite often more effective and efficient ways to carry out your own work.

2. You will improve interpersonal skills – Every time you engage in mentoring, you will be honing your management, leadership and interpersonal skills. It may not be apparent overnight but after months or years of mentoring, the way you approach challenges and offer support will undoubtedly have improved.

3. You’ll understand different perspectives – Your mentee will be approaching their career in a different way to you, because we are all different and all come at things from different perspectives. In mentoring, understanding different perspectives will help you to grow and develop in your own career.

4. You’ll feel great – Being able to help others’ and watching them progressing to success is a brilliant thing to do and you will feel a huge sense of satisfaction in doing so.

5. You’ll be re-enforcing best-practice – When we mentor other people, we often give advice and insights that we know but may have lost sight of in the years since we started in our own career. Re-enforcing best practice and good working habits can be a huge help to your own productivity and career development.

So, if you’re not yet mentoring other people, ask yourself why and then, if you have 60 minutes to spare a month, to help someone else (and in doing so help yourself too), then it’s time to get involved with mentoring. You can register FREE for PushFar’s open network by clicking here and volunteering to become a mentor or approach your organisation’s learning department and ask them how you can become a mentor.

This National Mentoring Day, get involved – find your mentor, volunteer to mentor others or do both. Please. It will change your life.
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