On Tuesday, March 19, the Young PR Professionals of Rochester hosted an event called “How to Create, Expand or Maximize your Mentorship Opportunities.” Hosted by Tom Proiretti, the panel included Dresden Engle, Kevin Kane, and Tracy Till. In other words, it was a dream-team panel for any student or young professional.
I heard a lot of great advice during the program, and following are the three major takeaways.
What is mentorship?
Dresden Engle: Mentorship is the generous sharing of knowledge with someone else.
Kevin Kane: Mentorship is a way to broaden your horizons and get outside your comfort zone to learn new things and meet new people.
Tracy Till: Mentorship is a relationship with someone who inspires you to learn and grow. It produces aspiration within you. I still have multiple mentors today.
How do you identify a mentor? What are they like?
Mentors respect their colleagues and mentees. If they exude generosity, it says “I respect you and value you.”
Mentors are non-threatening, and don’t feel intimidated by youth. Some experienced professionals might be afraid to help a younger generation, in fear that they could be replaced. Those might not be the best candidates for mentors.
Mentors are incredibly passionate about what they do, and they love to share their brilliance. If someone frequently gives tips and shares valuable information, they might be a great mentor.
Okay, so mentors are good to have. How do I get one?
In a word: Networking. Tracy Till explained that sending out resumes when looking for a job is like a broad marketing campaign. Networking, though, is a much more targeted campaign. There are two easy ways to network with people in your field.
1. Informal networking interviews
Professionals are usually flattered and happy to let students observe them or even come in to ask them questions about their jobs and companies.
Anyone can email me, and I will always respond. Individuals should always respond to me, though. You need to be authentic and follow through.
You need to think about your personal credibility and reputation when participating in interviews with professionals. Make a good impression.
2. Attending professional events sponsored by the PRSA or AMA
Do your homework before the event. Know who will be there, who you want to see and speak with.
If you’re shy, set a goal for yourself before each event. That might mean that you start out with the goal of shaking five hands, but eventually you will get more comfortable meeting new people. You can increase your goal as you get better at it.
I think the best advice of the night came from the panel’s moderator, Tom Proietti, who suggests that everyone learns their zip code’s “+4,” and include it when writing your address. It shows the intense attention to detail that many hiring managers look for. Once you build a relationship with a professional – “stay on their radar.”
What would you add? How did you find your mentor?