At last night’s #u30pro chat we asked the participants to share professional obstacles that they’ve been facing, and then turned it over to the chat to discuss how to overcome these obstacles.
The final obstacle that we discussed left me with a few questions. It was about using twitter while in the office. This person’s superior asked them not to.
This question forced the young pros that were participating to take a hard look at themselves in the mirror. Few who have worked in an office can honestly say they’ve never peeked at their facebook, or twitter once in a while.
Then Meghan Butler brought up the “advantage of personal branding” for the company. That’s to say that to build your personal brand benefits the company, and so it should be alright to do it on company time.
This is different though. It’s about company time. Should employees be allowed to spend time building their personal brand, while they’re on the clock? Should they be allowed to use social networks at all?
EDIT: To add to the conversation, Dan Schawbel just tweeted about a research report claiming “24% of employees have been disciplined at work because of social networking”.
A reverse mentor is a mentor that is younger than the person that they are mentoring. A relatively new term, but an old concept, reverse mentoring requires an open mind and a willingness to learn. A great mentor can extremely valuable, regardless of the age of either party. We all have something to learn and contribute from one another.
Not sure what you stand to gain from a reverse mentor? Here are a few benefits…
Fresh Ideas. You’ve been in the game a long time. You’ve developed habits over time, from doing similar projects many times over. With such repetition, it can be hard to think outside of your comfort zone. A reverse mentor can shed a completely new light on a situation. A fresh perspective from fresh eyes.
New Tools. Again, being in the game for a long time, you’ve probably become comfortable with certain tools and technologies. Perhaps you haven’t updated in a while. A younger professional that is just starting off, will probably start with the newest tools and technology, and so they can introduce you to it. (Not to say you are less tech-savvy)
Reignite Your Flame. Over time, perhaps you’ve lost a bit of your excitement for your profession. Take the ambition and eagerness to learn from your reverse mentor (assuming you chose a good one) and use it to get yourself fired up again. They can help you reignite your own eagerness to learn.
Teach to Learn. This one might not work for everyone. Whenever I had a test coming up in school, and I explained a question or topic to another student, it helped me understand and remember it better. By teaching a younger professional, you may end up touching on things that you haven’t had to do in a while, or haven’t been so comfortable with, and it will force you to understand it well enough to teach it.
Just Learn. Sometimes, age will have nothing to do with it. You will just learn from the thoughts and insights of another professional that happens to be younger than you. Don’t let a stereotype prevent you from learning.
Ultimately every mentorial relationship should be a two way street. Both the young, and the not as young professional should learn from each other.
What else would you add to the list? How has a reverse mentor helped you?
If you didn’t already know, mentors are the single most valuable resource a young professional could hope to enjoy…aside from actual experience.
Starting off isn’t easy. Mentors make it easier. If you are able to create meaningful relationships with older, more experienced professionals, you’ll certainly have a leg up on your competition.
A mentor provides you with…
Their experiences. Now nothing can replace the value of actually experiencing something yourself, but it’s also extremely valuable to have the advice of someone who’s been there before. Your mentor has seen what works and what doesn’t. Let them help you make some right decisions.
Their network. If you have a mentor, it’s because they believe in you and they want to pass on their experience and knowledge to a worthy younger professional. This means that they’ll probably trust you enough that they’d be willing to recommend you to their connections. Their network is probably much greater than yours, and can be invaluable to a young professional. Remember though, sometimes you have to ask.
An “in” at networking events. Working off the last point, if you’re in the same area as your mentor, as I currently am with two great ladies Beth Harte and Gloria Bell, your mentor is a HUGE resource when it comes to networking events. Those events can be awkward for young professionals who don’t know that many people. Beth and Gloria have both been amazing to me, introducing me to everyone they know at networking events in Philly.
Their knowledge. I don’t know it all. Shocking right? Especially while working for a start-up, I’ve been asked to do things that have just drawn a smile and a nod from me while thinking “how the crap am I going to do this?” Well amazing mentors like Arik Hanson, Danny Brown, and many others have always been there to teach me the things I need to learn.
Their support. This may not sound like a great resource, but for me, it’s been amazing. Starting off in your career is tough. You always feel like you’re catching up to learn as much as others, you often don’t have the answer, and you’re afraid to do or say anything wrong because any misstep could destroy your career (not true, but the thought occurs). Having an older, experienced and respected mentor there to support you and reassure you of the things you’re doing well helps you get through some of the tougher times.
How have your mentors helped you?
You can view all Mentor Monday postshere. It is a series where I feature people that have helped me when I needed it, whether or not I asked for it, and whether or not they even realize it. I am extremely thankful for these people, and would not be where I am today, or where I will be tomorrow, without them.
BUT since I’m starting to run out of mentors, I will also be mixing in posts about mentorship in general…
Feel free to join in and thank your mentors for everything they’ve done every #mentormonday.