Published on January 29, 2014
BROUGHT TO YOU BY Mentoring 101! Jenni Luke, CEO of Step Up Women’s Network, offers advice on everything you need to know about mentoring relationships.!
Meet Jenni Luke! Jenni is CEO of Step Up Women’s Network, a nonprofit organization inspiring women to inspire girls. Overseeing Step Up’s offices in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York, Jenni directs the organization’s objective of propelling girls from under-resourced communities to fulfill their potential. Under her leadership, Step Up empowers girls to become confident, college-bound, career-focused and ready to join the next generation of professional women. You can learn more at www.suwn.org. Jenni recently answered questions from the members of Connect: Professional Women’s Network. Here’s some of her most popular advice!
WHAT IS A MENTOR? I recommend that we broaden the definition of what a mentor is. While the traditional archetype of an older person taking a young recruit under her wing certainly applies, that is by no means the only model. Mentors can be old or young, in your industry or out, able to meet regularly or only occasionally. They might take an active role in driving your career, or they might prefer you come to them when you have questions. Whatever the set-up, a mentor is someone with valuable experience who helps you make important career and life decisions.
Who needs a mentor? Some people need mentors when they’re right out of college or graduate school, some when they’re more senior in their career and looking for a different type of mentoring, and others simply at a time when they’re looking to be inspired. We all need mentors throughout our lives, and the needs change over time.
How do I find a mentor? The best one-to-one, longer-term mentoring relationships come organically. Stay in touch with your favorite professor and build relationships with people in your company, even when you move on to other opportunities. Then when you reach out with questions, you’re coming from a more authentic place. If you’re farther along in your career, think back to that great boss or colleague and look them up.
Which is better: a mentor inside my workplace or out? Internal mentoring or sponsorship programs to ensure that those with potential are rising through the ranks are important. But I do recommend that people seek mentors from outside their company if they feel they can’t honestly speak their minds and get the support they need.
Does my mentor need to be in my industry? Connect with industry-specific networking groups or list-serves to broaden your network within your field. Remember that skills translate across industries. Thinking this way can broaden your pool of resources dramatically.
How do I ask someone to mentor me? Generally, using the phrase “Will you be my mentor” isn’t the best approach. Create a relationship with someone around the skills you need that they have. Start specific, grow the relationship organically, and then get into a more consistent or detailed relationship if that’s where it leads.
How do I sustain the relationship? It’s up to you as the mentee to set the tone and pace of the relationship. If the reason you initially came to your mentor for has been resolved, follow up to share the outcome and to thank them. This can set the stage for switching gears to talk about a new challenge you’d like help with. Being clear about what you need will give them the best chance to serve you.
How can I make the most of my mentor? Bring clarity to what you need by thinking about the categories of questions you have. Are they skills-based? Do you need help with management of staff? Wondering how to navigate office politics? These are all great places to start with a mentor, and you can build the relationship from there.
Can an older person be mentored by someone younger? When taking on any new job or set of responsibilities, we all need training and assistance, no matter what our age. An older person can certainly learn from the younger people on the team. It might help to leave the word “mentor” out of it and just ask questions.
I’d love to mentor someone. How can I find a mentee? If you feel inspired to reach out to someone, do it! One of my mentors made it a goal to serve a younger executive who he felt had potential and whom he worked well with. I was fortunate that he reached out to me, and he has become a truly valued resource.
Can I mentor more than one person at a time? If you take a broader view of mentorship, you can mentor several people at once by speaking to a group of colleagues or associates at your company, sitting on a panel discussion of your professional association or writing for your company newsletter.
Join the conversation! Connect: Professional Women’s Network, Powered by Citi, is an online community on LinkedIn that helps women achieve the careers they want and discuss the issues relevant to their success For more great insights from Connect members, check out the discussion: I'm Jenni Luke, Here to Answer Your Questions About Mentoring. Visit linkedin.com/womenconnect for more information and to join the group for free! PHOTO CREDITS: 1: Schubbel/Shutterstock 2: Courtesy of suwn.org 3: Curly Pat/Shutterstock 4: bikeriderlondon/Shutterstock 5: Tyler Olson/Shutterstock 6: Statsministerens kontor/Flickr 7: Fortune Live Media ©2014 LinkedIn Corporation. All Rights Reserved. 8: Dell's Official Flickr Page 9: Dell's Official Flickr Page 10: Fortune Live Media/Flickr 11: Vinogradov Illya/Shutterstock 12: STILLFX/Shutterstock 13: Dell's Official Flickr Page
©2014 LinkedIn Corporation. All Rights Reserved. CONNECT: PROFESSIONAL WOMEN’S NETWORK 15
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