No matter which side of the hybrid and remote work debate you’re on, it’s no secret that how we connect with our colleagues and forge professional relationships has changed. Alongside this shift, how we seek guidance and mentorship is also evolving beyond traditional office and IRL networking settings. These relationships require more proactive effort, and finding and maintaining them can feel more challenging and less natural as a result. But as the way we work becomes less defined, there are tons of opportunities to be found in the increasing flexibility around connecting with people who inspire us, and the decrease in structure around how we gain new perspectives in mapping out what growth and success can look like.
No matter how we forge these relationships, the bottom line remains: establishing mentor-mentee connections is more critical than ever before to supercharge career growth and upskill consistently, both for mentees and mentors: connection is a tool for growth through new perspectives, and any mentoring relationship as a result, is something we can’t rely on AI to manufacture anytime soon.
Here are a couple of things to keep in mind, whether you’re pursuing mentorship to navigate a career transition or general development, or you’ve been approached by someone you believe in to share your experience and help guide their trajectory.
TIPS FOR MENTEES
- Mentorship isn’t a marriage. Taking a broader approach to the mentorship dynamic creates a ton of space for diverse learning opportunities and to have impactful conversations at any point in your career. Don’t think of a mentorship as one exclusive relationship after whom you can model your career – seek out impactful connections and conversations from folks you admire beyond your speciality, industry, lived experience and location to accelerate your growth mindset and really enhance how you see your own potential. It’s about quality over quantity of the time you spend building these connections, and they don’t have to be permanent – recognizing this takes pressure off both sides without reducing potential impact.
- Take a tailored approach. As you broaden your horizons of what your professional connections and network looks like, being strategic in how you approach mentorship conversations will ensure the most value for everyone involved. Think critically about who you are approaching, and come prepared with 1-2 questions that only they can answer, or a particular challenge you’d value their perspective on specifically.
- Get help off the starting block. Whether you’re starting your career, feeling stuck or navigating a career transition, if you’re not sure where to start in finding new mentorship connections look for tools to bridge the gap. LinkedIn of course has endless potential connections, but if you’re looking for a more structured, intentional approach, organizations like Monday Girl were created to bridge the gap.
TIPS FOR MENTORS
- Instill confidence in new ways. If you’ve been approached to share a POV or give career advice, look to lend a unique perspective that helps demonstrate this person’s capabilities in a new way. Showing someone how applicable a certain skill could be to a different industry, or how to market their background in a more strategic way will empower a mentee in meaningful ways, and give them the confidence to accelerate their growth or see opportunities to forge a new path.
- See the potential for growth and learning on both sides. Mentoring and coaching flexes critical management and leadership muscles, and keeps you tapped into how your industry has changed over time. Learning about the challenges others face as they work to grow in or break into your industry can shed new light on opportunities to improve on a personal or organizational level, giving you an edge to welcome in top talent. Treating each connection as an opportunity to improve how you show up and shape where your work is headed in ways that will ensure lasting impact for everyone.
While the rapid evolution of AI tools to help enhance our industries in many ways is incredible, I admit I relish in the spaces where tech can’t deliver the value we can through our own human experience, and mentorship connections is a clear example. Growth through professional connection and the power of storytelling remains a key driver of some of the most valuable aspects of our careers, especially in creative industries. Magic doesn’t happen in a vacuum. We owe it to ourselves and our futures to extend a hand out – whether that’s physical or virtual doesn’t really matter.