Having a mentor helps young entrepreneurs learn the ropes, but it also benefits veterans who do the mentoring
We’re a generation of professionals that believes that paying it forward isn’t just a nice thing to do, but that it should be deeply rooted in the way we do business. Whether it’s letting someone pick our brains over coffee, or making a strategic introduction or inviting someone to an industry event, mentoring is a natural and important part of our working lives.
We devote our time to advising early stage startups because our expertise helps young entrepreneurs understand what it takes to launch a business in the ever-changing technology marketplace. Working with a mentor offers distinct advantages to someone who’s new to an industry.
What’s less obvious, however, is the flipside of this equation — mentorship has a positive impact on even a seasoned professional’s career.
If you’re on the fence about investing your time and energy into mentoring, here are four compelling reasons to inspire you.
Lend a helping hand
We’ve worked hard for our success, but we’ve also been fortunate enough to connect with mentors who guided us through different stages in both our personal and professional lives. Now that we’re older and wiser, we believe in providing the same kind of support to entrepreneurs who are just starting out. (Hey, we can all use some good karma.)
Early stage startups are often unable to pay experts for their help, so connecting with mentors who are willing to share their knowledge for free can be an essential stepping stone towards launching a new business, or taking a fledgling business to the next level.
Take time for introspection
When we’re engrossed in our daily routines, we rarely pause to consider how much we’ve progressed, or take stock of what we’ve achieved. Plus, many successful people suffer from ‘impostor syndrome’, a psychological phenomenon that prevents them from celebrating their own accomplishments. Mentoring gives you the opportunity to slow down, meditate on your career and recognise your own value.
When you’re a mentor, sharing your knowledge with a younger professional helps you reflect on and appreciate the experience you’ve accumulated throughout your career. You also get the benefit of looking at your professional life through another person’s eyes.
Your protege is often going to ask how you reached your most important career milestones and why you did things a certain way. Teaching someone who is new to your field puts your business acumen to the test and proves to you just how much you really know.
Reignite your creativity
Even if you love your job, there are times when it’s difficult to feed your creativity and constantly crank out new ideas. Brainstorming with others and sharing in their experiences is a great way to get the wheels turning again. It will not only help the person you’re mentoring, but can also keep you on your toes by presenting you with new challenges.
As a mentor, you generally give advice within your area of expertise, but your mentee might shake you out of your comfort zone. A mentoring relationship isn’t a one-way street, and there’s a great deal you can learn from each other.
You may become an adviser to startup that does something entirely different from your own company. Acting as a sounding board for ambitious new ideas will inspire you to think differently about your industry. After all, the best innovations don’t come from nowhere — they are often born from sharing ideas with others.
Also Read: 5 easy tips for finding the perfect mentor
Enhance your personal brand
Winning recognition as a successful mentor can really boost your reputation — from identifying you as the go-to person for a certain type of company, to being recognized for your expertise in a specific topic. This acknowledgment opens the door to new opportunities, whether it’s public speaking or the next major step in your career.
Mentoring is a positive way to strengthen your personal brand because you show your commitment to developing the careers of those around you. And the more people you help, the more your personal brand grows and the more like-minded people you’ll have by your side down the road.
All of this is going to make a huge impact on the kind of legacy you leave in your field.
Next steps: Dive into the mentoring game
Mentorship is vital for encouraging innovation and building a strong, supportive network of professionals. It’s a rewarding, mutually-beneficial relationship that helps both the young up-and-comer and the more seasoned professional.
If the prospect of mentoring appeals to you, we suggest selecting specific days and hours that you’re willing to devote to meeting people who want to approach you.
Once you establish your availability, get in touch with startups, accelerators or incubators in your area and offer up some office hours, or become an Executive in Residence (EIR).
Once you start taking mentees under your wing, you’ll quickly find that it’s a gratifying and educational experience.
The article Doing Well by Doing Good: How Mentoring Takes Your Career to the Next Level was first published on Geektime.
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