By Mark Pinsent
Hoffman Europe Office, General Manager
I’ve been thinking about mentoring recently. Not thinking about doing it, as I already do (back to that in a second) but just about mentoring as a thing, and how useful it is, for both the mentee and the mentor.
I count myself very lucky to be considered a mentor (informally, in the majority of cases) by a number of people I’ve worked with, met, or been introduced to over the past few years. It’s by happy accident rather than design, and purely comes through a willingness to fspend a bit of time with people, listen to their challenges, ask some questions (a bit like some of these, but in more natural language!), provide a perspective and perhaps some advice based on my own experience. Every now and then you can make a mutually beneficial introduction, which is also nice.
But I get as much – if not more – from the process of mentoring as I deliver. It’s genuinely one of the most rewarding things I do as part of my professional life. There’s plenty of evidence to show that doing things for others is a route to happiness, and I’d say that’s absolutely true of mentoring. The feel that you’ve helped someone overcome a challenge or move their career forward is really, really satisfying. But more than that, the people I meet always bring new perspectives, ideas and approaches which help me in my professional life, and often beyond.
I’m also lucky in that I have a small number of people who I’d consider my mentors, not that any of them would necessarily formally recognise themselves as such. But they’re incredibly important to me as people who’ll act as a sounding board, and to help me think around issues and challenges that I’m facing.
There are some amazing mentoring schemes in place in the PR, communications and marketing industry. Naturally, quite a significant proportion of these focus on tackling specific industry issues – particularly around encouraging a more diverse workforce into the profession and greater equality senior positions – or on specific sectors or roles. I’m thinking of the excellent work of organisations such as The Taylor Bennett Foundation, Women in PR, and mentoring schemes from the likes of the Institute of Internal Communication and CharityComms. You can also get involved as a mentor in the Government Communication Service and initiatives like MediaTrust’s Transforming Hidden Talent programme.
I’m very much in favour of those, of course, but I’m also a massive believer that mentoring can benefit everyone, of any background, race, gender, age or stage of their career. I mean, I’m getting on a bit now but there hasn’t been a time in my career when a mentor wouldn’t have been useful, and there still isn’t.
I’d really like to encourage more people to try mentoring, and more people to find themselves a mentor. You can check out the initiatives above, of course, or simply do your own research and approach somebody directly who looks like they might fit the bill as a mentor. As a potential mentor yourself, you can also submit your details on LinkedIn’s Career Advice Hub, which will help people looking for assistance to find you.
Give it a go. I can guarantee you won’t regret it.