Top tips for… Building your Mentoring Mesh

The world of business is very challenging these days. Companies are being put under extreme pressure to satisfy shareholders, employees are been squeezed to the maximum in terms of performance. It is easy to just put your head down and “just get on with it”.

Throw experience into the mix, and we pick up very different skills with each role”

However, having been through double redundancy and having to reinvent myself a number of times, the number one thing to do is to maintain your visibility within and outside of your organisation. This is not about networking like crazy, networking in every event you get invited to. What I am referring to is utilising the power of your own board of directors, and build a mesh of mentors who can guide you through your career and personal transitions.

According to Rob Cross & Andrew Parker in, “The Hidden Power of Social Networks: Understanding how Work Really Gets Done in Organisations, “What distinguished high performers were larger and more diversified networks than those of average performers. This is consistent with other research findings, in which more diversified networks are associated with early promotion, career mobility, and managerial effectiveness”.

As with everything, having a diverse range of mentors, each with differing experience, view-points and contacts, is key. I was recently asked, once again, to mentor someone that I really respected. I got a fuzzy feeling inside, happy to have been considered as someone who could impart knowledge and guidance for this wonderfully successful woman. I am not alone. Just because we are all busy, does not mean we are not privy to the positive emotion when someone we care about is successful.

As with everything in life, our careers are fluid. Throw experience into the mix, and we pick up very different skills with each role and with each level of responsibility. The same is true for mentors. This is why we passionately believe in the power of having a number of mentors to guide you through your personal and professional journeys. We call this the Mentoring Mesh™.

So, how do you go about identifying the most appropriate mentors?

Be strategic: start by understanding yourself – what you are good at doing, and want to do more of? What roles are most suited to use these skills? Where you see yourself in 5 years time?

Set objectives: what is important for you to have achieved in the short term and long terms? What are the important milestones for you?

Identify individuals who could help you on your journey: think of who may have gone through a similar transition or challenge as you in order to get to where they are. How did they get there? What qualifications or experience did they have? Are those still relevant for entering the sector or part of the business you are looking to move into in the long term? There is only one way to find out: ask them!

Have courage: remember, if you don’t ask, you don’t get…

Be specific: What do you want to achieve? What is it you would like this person to advise you on? Why do you think they are relevant for you? What can you, also, help them with?

Be flexible: this is the most challenging part of the mentoring relationship. We often expect lengthy commitments. Senior executives have little time, so work in a way that fits in with their diary. If they can only give you 15 minutes, then arranging a conference call to discuss specific enquiry or issue it has to be. Meeting face to face is great, but not going to be very likely…

And remember: mentor others. Mentoring does not have to be a long-winded commitment. Mentor someone at a lower level to you over a coffee, and share your expertise and knowledge on their issues. You will not just feel good about yourself, but you will make an enormous difference to someone who is now where you were we few years ago. Remember how good that made you feel…

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