As event professionals, we must never forget the importance of investing in the future of our profession by mentoring and training up-and-coming professionals. Not only do these individuals bring fresh perspectives to our field, but they also represent a source of new talent that can help take your events and programs to new heights. By nurturing their growth, you are not only advancing the development of an industry full of creativity and innovation–you’re setting yourself and your organization apart from the competition.
Here we will explore how mentors can benefit both themselves and those they mentor by exploring some key strategies for effective mentorship.
The long-term benefits
Although one might initially think that mentees are reaping all of the benefits, there’s a lot that can be said for long-term benefits for mentors as well.
According to Sarah Blessinger of Kindred Weddings & Events: “Good mentorship is a symbiotic relationship whereby both parties learn more. For example, a mentee can teach a mentor more about leadership and communication. And a mentor can share lessons learned in business and navigating client relationships.”
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Remember - we were all beginners at one point. And Nora Sheils of Rock Paper Coin and Bridal Bliss notes that the growth goes both ways. “You are helping them better their business, which betters the industry. Finally, as your mentee grows, sending business back and forth is possible as your mentee grows. It's a win-win!”
Where should you start?
Regardless of where you lie on the spectrum–whether you’re looking to mentor someone or hoping to reach out to a mentor yourself–there’s a time and a place for everything.
As Jen Sulak of Weirdo Weddings suggests, it may be best to establish your goals first before reaching out as a mentee. “I think listening to your intuition is a great start, then reaching out with a clear goal or asking the potential mentor for a meeting and laying out the idea and commitment. Some of the quickest ways to assess your next steps are by feeling a need to move in a direction that you may have never been, but someone else has!”
Alternatively, as a mentor, Sulak continues: “I sometimes feel that waiting is a good idea for those in your life that may need you, but you may need to wait for them to approach you vs. the other way around. In regards to mentorship, you can also volunteer for opportunities with organizations for the younger generations of future business owners and creatives!”
For Anna Kimbro of Twickenham House, it’s all about practicing what you preach. “Mentorship should be founded on the idea of leading by example. It’s nearly impossible to pass on a tradition when you’re not practicing it alongside your mentee! This kind of hands-on approach also builds trust and mutual respect.”
Nurturing your connections is key
Once you’ve established your mentor/mentee relationship, it’s important to nurture that bond. It takes two to make this sort of connection work, so make sure you’re doing your part in keeping the communication consistent and open.
Jacqueline Vizcaino of Tinted Events Design & Planning says, “Set clear expectations. Be open about your goals and desired outcomes for the mentoring relationship. This will help ensure everyone is on the same page and working towards a common goal. Make time for the relationship and be open and honest. Honesty is essential to any relationship, so share your thoughts and feelings with your mentor/mentee. This will help foster a trusting partnership between you both. And don’t be afraid to ask for assistance or advice when needed!”
Blessinger continues, noting that boundaries are also going to make for a healthy connection: “Whether you are the mentee or a mentor, ensure you always respect the other individuals' boundaries. This includes not just their boundaries around time but their process and the information they share.”
If you’re an experienced event pro, consider taking on a mentee. You’ll have the opportunity to share your knowledge and help shape the future of the events industry. And who knows–you might even learn a thing or two from them!