By Kristine Steinberg, CEO of Kismet
One of the most powerful ways to exercise generosity as a professional is to become a mentor.
This month, as we reflect on giving, I challenge you to consider taking on a mentoring role as an opportunity to teach, coach, provide feedback, and share your knowledge with someone else… all resulting in community building, a greater sense of purpose, learning (on both sides), and increased levels of joy.
I’ve seen the power of mentoring on a broad scale, through a program I helped forge in NYC. In a collaboration with Soho House (a creative community of professionals), we searched for marginalized creatives who didn’t have access to networks that would enable them to break into their desired industry. Our mission was to pair up Soho House members, successful in their fields, with rising creatives from underprivileged communities for four months. A prospective mentee who wanted to break into fashion, for example, would be connected to a Soho House member in the fashion industry who would share their knowledge. Many of the mentees left the experience with new networks, job opportunities, and pathways towards dream careers. The mentees gained so much, and the mentors also reported how inspired, uplifted, and motivated they felt while in their role.
If you are interested in this opportunity to have a positive impact on others, consider the following mentorship guidelines.
How to Be a Successful Mentor:
- Commit. If you’re thinking about giving back in the form of mentoring, take time to assess whether you can commit the time and energy it takes. Are you willing to dedicate time to prepare for conversations and think through how to best provide the help your mentee is looking for?
- Find a mentee. There are many ways to find a mentee. It could happen organically with a coworker or someone in your network. You can also inform colleagues, friends, former classmates, and your managers that you are available.
- Set goals and clarify expectations. Once you find a good match, consider what each of you want out of the relationship. How do you want to help your mentee achieve their goals? Create a timeline for your mentor/mentee relationship; plan to check in and re-evaluate after a few months.
- Think through logistics. Set a frequency for how often you’ll meet. It doesn’t have to be set in stone, but a general guideline can help both of you plan ahead. Will you meet once a week, once a month, or somewhere in between? How will you communicate with each other (text, phone, email, in-person)?
- Set boundaries. Discuss when you’ll be available, and when you won’t be (i.e., do you want to be contacted after the workday or during weekends?). A note of caution: without clear boundaries, you might start to feel resentful, and the relationship will suffer.
- Follow through. With your mentee’s goals in mind, consider how you can help. What information, resources, articles, introductions, shadowing opportunities, or event initiations can you provide them with? How can you help them get more visibility in the workplace?
Mentorship is invigorating; it opens up our world to new perspectives, ideas, ways of thinking, and competencies. It can be empowering, gratifying, and confidence-building — for both the mentor and the mentee. It’s an investment in another person’s well-being that in turn boosts our own.
Coaching Questions to Consider:
- Think of someone who has either formally or informally mentored you.
- What did they do well to inspire you?
- What did you gain from that experience?
- If you were to become a mentor, what knowledge, advice, or special talent would you love to share?
Kristine Steinberg is the CEO of Kismet. She believes that your life should be deeply fulfilling — not tolerated. Partner with Kismet to dismantle fear, define your path, and lead with courage. Start your transformation today: www.thisiskismet.com.