Greta Snell is vice president at Dittoe Public Relations.
Mentorship comes in a variety of forms, from one-off micro-mentorship opportunities to connections that span decades-long careers. It has been my experience, and that of many of my peers, that building relationships and connecting with your community – both modes of mentorship – supports holistic growth and results in new opportunities in public relations and social media roles.
From a young age, I’ve been fortunate enough to have incredible mentors. It mostly started with coaches and role models in sports. When I hit high school, I found my way to journalism with a teacher and publications advisor as a valued mentor. Once in college, that roster of mentors grew to include professors, internship supervisors, newspaper peers and more. Today, I’m surrounded by smart, talented professionals within our agency and through partnerships and connections beyond PR work. This circle of trusted mentors continues to grow, and the value I’ve found in my mentor relationships has undoubtedly ignited a personal passion for mentoring others.
Data supports the value of mentorship in personal and professional settings. Of those with a mentor, 97% feel they are highly impactful and valuable, yet only 37% of professionals have a mentor. The power of mentorship also lies in the “pay it forward” approach, as I’ve experienced myself, with 89% of those who have been mentored going on to mentor others.
While professional development and opportunities to enhance the more technical skills needed to execute strategic public relations and social media campaigns are critical to success, it’s important to make room for 360-degree growth for team members, clients and the business. Exposure to servant leadership and access to mentorship, internally and externally, is one additional way to maximize growth.
If you’re seeking a mentoring relationship, here are three ways to build connections:
Be proactive in the pursuit of connecting with like-minded people
Mentorship requires some level of initiative to create connection. Join professional groups that align with your goals, volunteer for organizations and causes you’re passionate about, set up one-on-one meetings with peers and leaders within your own company, make more out of a hobby, etc. By seeking out organizations and experiences that align with me, I’ve built meaningful connections with fellow public relations professionals, peers who advocate for global animal conservation, communications creatives who have a love for sports and our city, and yoga enthusiasts – collectively, it’s brought both mentorship to me and for me.
Just as we work to build awareness of our clients with their target audiences using public relations and social media strategies, we must understand the value of building our own awareness to support our short- and long-term growth.
Create mutually beneficial mentor-mentee relationships
Just like communication, mentorship is not a one-way street. Read that again.
It’s important to create a mutually beneficial and supportive relationship. Whether you are the mentor or the mentee, do not lead or focus only on what you can get out of a relationship. Instead, think of the ways you can give, and by doing so, what you may receive in return. The role of a mentor isn’t reserved for only the most tenured in a particular area of interest. All levels of experience in all versions of a field provide valuable insight and learning opportunities. I’m learning from my colleagues, some more than a decade my junior, every single day. Mentorship is a vessel for us all to evolve together.
Be open to receiving feedback and apply it.
Feedback is critical to growth and readiness for what’s next on your big agenda. In mentorship, feedback is often paired with effective coaching and comes with a higher level of accountability. It’s important to understand that a strong mentor is there not only to guide you and uplift you, but sometimes to deliver constructive feedback that can be hard to digest at first. As a mentee, you must be open to feedback and, more importantly, apply it to future efforts.
Mentorship yields many benefits for both the mentor and mentee. When analyzing 43 studies, it was found that compared to non-mentored employees, mentored employees received higher compensation, a greater number of promotions, are more satisfied with and committed to their careers, and more. Invest in growth through mentorship, and the positive outcomes are infinite.