Mentoring: More Important than Ever Before
The working world is evolving, again. Some would argue that these evolutions never stop. Yet in these uncertain times, with a global pandemic, it is far more visible and the evolution far greater. So how can we adapt and thrive with the changing times and ensure that we come out of this pandemic stronger than ever? One significant answer lies in the power of mentoring.
Mentoring has been widely recognised for decades as an important part of professional development. But it’s more than just that; it’s a vast shift in the way work is being carried out, which is why there’s no better time than now to find a mentor who can help you to navigate these changes.
But what is mentoring?
For anyone unfamiliar with the concept of mentoring, the chances are you’ve already been mentored or have mentored others without even realising it. Simply put, mentoring is the act of one individual sharing their knowledge, skills and experience with another person to help them to develop. And that is it. It seems simple and the great thing is that it is!
Most mentoring relationships last several months, some last for years. Meeting or speaking for an hour each month is typically considered to be ‘best practice’ in mentoring and with social distancing and lockdowns around the world, virtual mentoring is on the rise. That means you can connect with someone anytime, anywhere.
How mentoring can benefit you during lockdown
If, as most of us are at the moment, you’re finding yourself in a position of uncertainty and looking at ways in which you can strengthen your position in the jobs market, prepare yourself for future adaptation and ultimately grow and develop in your career, a mentor can really help.
An experienced mentor can offer insight into the ever-evolving working world, ask you the right questions to get you thinking about your options, unlock potential opportunities and advise you on the best course of action to take. This is especially important if you want to use this time to shift into the not-for-profit sector. By connecting with someone who already works for a charity, you can ask them important questions about what to expect and what charity hiring managers are looking for in an application.
Mentors are often more experienced and older too, which can be particularly advantageous when it comes to economic downturn and job market uncertainty. An older mentor has likely been through a recession or two in their time and can give you extremely valuable insights and help you position yourself properly. Mentors may be able to support with general career development, industry-specific upskilling or certain challenges being faced at any given time.
Where can I find my mentor?
This is a question people often ask—how can an individual find a mentor? Fortunately, there are a few options here. First, you need to work out where to look for a mentor. Do you want a mentor who can guide you through general career development? Or are you seeking advice on your industry? Working out which relevant experience your mentor should possess is a good starting point. Sometimes it can help to picture what your ideal mentor’s CV might include. Which roles have they had? Where have they worked? What challenges are they likely to have faced and overcome? Asking all these questions will help you to figure this out.
Once you have a good idea of what you’re after, you can start to proactively seek out those individuals. There are a few ways in which you can go about this and some are easier than others.
Proactively networking can be a great way to find a mentor. Whilst in-person networking events are on hold, there are still lots of virtual networking events taking place and online platforms like CharityConnect and LinkedIn can be utilised here.
PushFar’s open mentoring platform can be a great place to find your mentor. With more than 20,000 members and growing fast, PushFar is free to join and you can volunteer to mentor others, find your own mentor and network too. The platform automatically lists recommended potential mentors based on your profile too.
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Friends and family
Whilst we are not advocating friends or family members as direct mentors, it is worth speaking with them and letting them know that you are on the lookout for a mentor. They may well have friends or contacts of their own who could be the perfect mentor for you!
Industry bodies and membership Institutes
Most industries now have membership institutes or clubs to offer support and a lot of these now run mentoring programmes too. So, it is worth exploring your options here and considering joining. If you work in fundraising, the Institute of Fundraising could be a good organisation to join. Or if you work in HR, the CIPD offers a mentoring scheme, available for their members.
School, college and university alumni
Whilst most schools, colleges and universities encourage their alumni to mentor existing students, there are some educational institutes out there who offer to mentor recent graduates and alumni too. So, if you have recently graduated, check with your school or university whether they have any available opportunities or individuals they can connect you with.
Go ahead, start connecting
Remember, mentoring can be an extremely powerful resource to help you to navigate through challenges at the best of times. With uncertainty in the jobs market and the current economic climate, it can be even more beneficial in helping to strengthen your position and make sense of everything.
As well as finding a mentor, consider what you might be able to mentor others on too. If you feel you have experience and knowledge to share with others and help them too, then why not offer to mentor someone else as well?
Ed Johnson is the CEO & Co-Founder of PushFar, a globally-leading platform helping to make mentoring more accessible and effective for individuals and organisations. With a background in digital marketing and online business growth, Ed now works closely with HR directors and Learning & Development Managers in organisations across a wide range of industries and sectors, helping to unlock mentoring and employee potential.