In my last post I discussed the value both young aspiring and older experienced professionals have to contribute to the business community. Whether you’re just coming out of college, or you’ve been at your company for 10 years, the collaboration of an expert’s experience and a fresh new enthusiastic millenial will benefit both parties.
Deidre Hughey was kind enough to provide some feedback and proposed a great question that I decided was worthy of a follow up post. She asks:
“How does one know if another person is looking for a mentor? How do you approach someone and offer to be their mentor? Is it the responsibility of the professional/experienced person to offer mentorship or does it lie with the person seeking the mentoring? Outside of people like Patrick, who has set up a single location for both sides to meet and connect them, I think it’s difficult for the act to occur.”
Just to clarify, I believe that young professional millenials and experienced experts have much to gain from working together whether it be in a “mentor-apprentice” setting, or just in general, equal collaboration with one another, as long as each party is respectful of the other’s specialties. Either way, I agree, it is difficult for the act to occur. I will argue however, that if we open our minds to the opportunity, it could be very easy. I will address Deidre’s question for both arrangements.
Yes, Patrick provides a great program connecting serious young professionals with experienced professionals. To connect without programs like Patrick’s, it is the responsibility of both parties to do their respective parts. If you choose to establish a mentorship on your own, here is what should be done.
For the Mentor-Seeking Millenial:
It is the responsibility of the millenial to connect with the mentor. They must present themselves in a professional and sincere matter that lets experts, or mentors know that they are serious about wanting to learn. To present yourself in this manner you must do more than tell the expert that you are serious and read their blog, but also SHOW it! Whether it be in social communities or even on their blog, take an active role, the opportunity isn’t just going to come to you. Actively participate in discussions and learn more by reading many other blogs. Then you can approach the expert to ask for a “mentorship.”
For the Mentor:
MAKE YOURSELF APPROACHABLE! I have found that many times experienced professionals have their smaller network of trusted individuals and are very closed off to others who have something valuable to contribute to the conversation. This happens especially when the person wanting to contribute is a young inexperienced millenial who has not established themselves in the industry.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect Chris Brogan to start replying to every message he gets from random young new social media enthusiasts. I also don’t think that every single person can really contribute something valuable to each conversation. If a young individual has made a strong attempt to connect and contribute as I described above however, it is important that sometimes, experts step out of their usual trusted networks, hear what they have to say, and act as a mentor. Remember you may not need them now, but these young new social media enthusiasts are the future of what you have spent all those years building, and can provide you with a valuable alternative perspective.
By collaboration arrangement, I mean simply the collaboration of an experienced professional and a millenial on a project or issue. This is very simple and it’s a matter of respecting each other.
The experienced professional must…
- be willing to connect with young professionals outside their usual network
- be sincerely open to new ideas that the young professional may have
- respect their views and opinions as an aspiring professional
The young millenial must respect that the experienced professional is well, experienced! They must acknowledge that:
- they have had successes and failures and have learned a great deal from them
- they have been studying trends and learning about their industry for a very long time
- they have worked very hard to gain the respect and trust of their peers and colleagues
- Experience is invaluable; enthusiasm and bright ideas only go so far without an understanding of the big picture, don’t forget that.
Or you can just skip all that and email Patrick Evans at firstname.lastname@example.org. That works too (=