Learning how to learn—getting the most from your mentor

I’m proud to be part of this year’s Mentorship Exchange program offered by the American Marketing Association. According to their website, the program “scientifically matches Canada’s premier C-suite Mentor community with up and coming marketers…to inspire and enable them to become the Canadian business leaders for tomorrow.”

What’s so special about mentorship?

In Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In, “women who found mentors through formal programs were 50 percent more likely to be promoted than women who found mentors on their own.”

However, having the right Mentor goes beyond the pay cheque. Benefits include helping identify your hidden strengths, gaining valuable insights about your career, and increasing your visibility within your company and network.

According to a Forbes article titled, The often overlooked but invaluable benefits of mentorship, it can also help you strengthen or build your leadership skills.

For me, it’s a great way to ask a successful marketer about their journey and have the opportunity to hear their insights and feedback about my career. It doesn’t get better than that!

First things first, who’s my mentor?

In order to get the most from a mentor relationship, you first need a mentor. Ways in which you can get a mentor include: a program offered at work or an industry association or approaching one of your contacts.

You might already have a mentor and not even know it! Do you know someone who has extensive knowledge in your area of interest, a keen interest in your growth, and can provide unsolicited feedback? If you answered yes to the above— eureka, that’s your mentor.

So I have a mentor, what now?

Our kick-off event at the Mentorship Exchange included a session with Professor Stephen Friedman from the Schulich School of Business. He provided some pointers on how to get the most from our mentors:

  1. Know what you want and ask for it: before talking to your mentor, figure out what you want from the relationship by developing measurable goals. Once developed, clearly communicate your goals to them. Make sure to revisit your goals throughout the process to ensure your tracking towards them.
  2. Be proactive: the success of this relationship relies on you. Take responsibility and make sure you schedule regular meetings with your mentor. This will go along way to also build rapport with them. Be consistent and be prepared for every meeting. Make sure you do your homework by reading about your mentor and learn about their company.
  3. Be transparent and genuine: don’t pretend to be perfect and have all the answers. In fact, be upfront with what is making you feel uneasy and openly discuss your challenges. When you do open up, make sure you listen and take their feedback gracefully. The only way to grow is to listen and be open-minded. This whole process is about self-discovery.

Those were just a few tips we learned about getting the most from our mentors. I’m very excited about beginning my journey with my mentor, Marilyn Cresswell. She’s a Professor from Humber College. I can’t wait to get to know her and work towards my goals.

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