As we move along in our careers, we realize finding fulfilment is about much more than a job title or salary. Learning and growing is the ultimate purpose. The past year in quarantine reminded us all that we can’t do this alone.
Think about relationships in your life: spouse, friend, colleague or neighbor. Each of these bonds took time to cultivate. Mentoring works the same way. Chances are you didn’t call someone up and announce, “You are my mentor!” Can you imagine if you said to your spouse back on the first date, “You are my partner for life!” That person would run so fast.
Remember the Three C’s
We find our mentors in different stages of our lives. It typically starts with a challenge at work or in our careers. Whether we’re seeking advice or sharing our own experience with a young professional through successes and failures, it’s a two-way relationship. If a mentor is willing to give time, come prepared with your goals, obstacles and questions to make great use of that time.
If you’re a fan of alliteration, this may help.
Here’s where time becomes a precious commodity. A seasoned mentor can save you a lot of time sharing what worked or didn’t work for them through their career. Mark Mohammadpour, APR has led PR teams around the country through many award-winning campaigns at Weber Shandwick and Edelman.
He’s not only a veteran communications executive but actually a certified coach. After losing and keeping off 150 pounds for more than a decade, Mark launched Chasing the Sun, a health coaching company for communications and marketing professionals. He’s one of our recent recipients of the Olga M. Haley Mentorship Award for the PRSA Oregon Chapter and a past chapter president.
“We all need people who are one part friend, one part coach, one part cheerleader, and one part advisor.”
As Mark points out, the advice is unfiltered and sincere as it comes from a different perspective.
“An outside mentor will constantly think about what’s best for you and your career, independent of your current role and organization.”
A mentor is also a great listener who guides the conversation but doesn’t give away all the answers and allows the mentee to figure out the path. As a leader can tell you, the learning experiences come from the journey, not the outcome.
Lise Harwin, APR has coached and guided many fellow public relations professionals with her thoughtful advice and award-winning experience. She’s another of our recent mentorship award recipients. You may have walked past her at the PDX Airport; she’s the employee communications manager for PDX and the Port of Portland. Prior to her success in employee engagement, she spent 17 years in media relations with successful brand storytelling in healthcare, nonprofit and higher education.
“Good mentorship is something you pay forward,” said Lise. When she moved back to Portland in 2000, she wasted no time building her network thanks to two of the best leaders you’ll ever meet through PRSA, Mara Woloshin and Dianne Danowski-Smith, both PRSA Fellows. “I wouldn’t be accepting this award had they not taught me the importance of generously sharing knowledge, expertise and – most of all – time.”
Finally, our third “C” sounds obvious, but it must not be forgotten how important it is to have someone cheering you on through your journey. Who better to quote on this subject than Oprah Winfrey:
Along with sharing feedback and advice, mentors also love sharing their support and enthusiasm. No matter how big or small the success, they get to root you on. The success in this relationship comes from good communication, imagine that, and transparency with each other. Mentees must remember that it’s up to them to guide these conversations on what they want to accomplish from these chats.
Reverse mentoring event
While a young pro is looking to pick up tips from a veteran, the experienced PR professional is just as excited to learn the latest trends from an emerging peer in the industry.
PRSA Oregon is turning the tables with a unique event in April. Mentors can sit back and hear from new voices and fresh perspectives as regional college students share their learnings from courses and internships. Experienced pros just might hear a new way they can answer a client or company’s challenge, and students get valuable experience with a new audience.
Join us from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thursday, April 22 for “Reverse Mentoring: PR’s Role in Creating a Sustainable World.”