Whatever industry you’re in, odds are on that the people you look to for inspiration in your business were once under the mentorship of someone they themselves admired.
Business mentorship has been a thing for as long as business has been - well, business!
Since the beginning, people have relied on those who came before them in order to establish a baseline for their business practices, benefit from the hard-earned lessons others have passed down, and as a go-to source for feedback and insights in their own method of operation.
As a person in business, the benefits of a mentorship is invaluable. And this is especially true for women in business.
While equality in workplace opportunities has obviously undergone tremendous changes for the better from past to present, there is still an ever-present glass ceiling to be found within many industries. And while this is obviously still a point of justifiable frustration for those who are feeling the pressure under gender gaps, discriminatory practices and unfair workplace standards, women in business must - as they always have - find a way to forge ahead and make their way beyond the barriers set in front of them.
One of the best tools in a business person’s arsenal is a go-to mentor where they can find support, honest and constructive feedback, and draw inspiration for their own business.
After all, so much of what we do day-to-day is based off of the foundation from successful figures in business who came before and set the standard in our industries. This translates to a resource of immeasurable value if you’re able to tap into the wisdom and experience of a businessperson who is willing to share their expertise and step into a mentorship role.
Wikipedia defines mentorship as “the patronage, influence, guidance, or direction given by a mentor. A mentor is someone who teaches or gives help and advice to a less experienced and often younger person. In an organizational setting, a mentor influences the personal and professional growth of a mentee.”
In a nutshell, a mentor is any person in a position to share their experience to someone who is considered to be more of a novice in the industry. Or someone who is looking to grow and expand their skillset.
Mentor-mentee relationships will vary in scope and frequency of communication depending on your specific needs, the mentor’s time allowance and willingness and the agreed upon dynamic between yourself and your mentor.
For any person in business, the opportunity for mentorship is a valuable one. It’s this kind of professional relationship that will allow you to brainstorm, strategize and successfully maneuver through workplace obstacles and challenges.
A good mentor will provide a soundboard for your thoughts, questions and ideas - providing support, feedback and ideas that stem from real-life experience.
Women in business, even in 2023, will face unique challenges and hurtles on their professional journey. And while we might remain hopeful that the gender gap will continue to lessen over time, the fact remains that business today still reflects undertones of gender bias and discrimination, and if this is the reality, then women in business must continue to adapt, strategize and thrive beyond these barriers.
Finding the right mentor will depend on several factors:
The mentorship-mentee relationship is one of mutual benefit and support, and a valuable connection for you to have on your professional track.
A mentor will help you learn how to function in today’s workplace using their own tried-and-true lessons and bits of wisdom. The right mentor will also be able to connect you with their network and valuable roster of personal contacts. This will end up being an invaluable resource for you as you work toward your own professional goals and climb the ladder in your industry. They will also be able to offer you advice and guidance on the best path to take in difficult situations related to your career, as they have more than likely already experienced and navigated through them firsthand.
As for what you personally can get out of the mentorship relationship - that remains to be seen, because the sky really is the limit. When you connect yourself with someone who inspires you as a mentor, you’re already positioning yourself for good things via an alliance that’s cohesive and proactive toward your goals.
Consider the most successful businesswomen you know of. They are probably faces you’ve seen on TV, personalities that have grown above and beyond the scope of their industry. Odds are, they come across as larger than life, mega-personalities with mega-success and massive industry accolades. These people are inspirational. They are big names with big success stories. But more of the people in this bracket than you might think have benefitted from the mentorship relationship throughout their career journey.
Remember, everyone started at their own first step and most are more than happy to share their tried-and-true bits of wisdom. Don’t be shy about reaching out and connecting with people whose work you admire and with whom you aspire to be like on a professional level.
So take the initiative and make it happen. Finding a mentor and establishing that connection is not an exact science and the most important first step is to just put yourself out there.
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