You’ve read and heard about building your brand by creating a resume or comprehensive portfolio, which includes examples of your skills and knowledge. All good stuff! All critical to helping you gain a competitive advantage.
As a mid-career professional, i.e., 10- 25 years in the workplace, you bring experience and skills more developed and valued because they’re time tested and proven. So your portfolio is much thicker, your resume much longer. I’d like to offer an area often overlooked, which deepens your skills, expertise and adds to your brand. And that is, mentoring.
Mentoring provides incredible value to you in:
- deepening your skills and expertise
- establishing yourself as a thought leader
It helps the recipient of your mentoring, either protégé or mentee, in accelerating their learning and contribution. Your organization or company benefits in more rapid and efficient skills transfer. Your profession gains through the increased number of knowledgeable members who can contribute greater levels of intellectual capital.
Mentoring is one of the oldest forms of learning and development, in the business environment. Oftentimes, there may be a concern associated with the sharing of knowledge with those who are younger and newer to a particular area. The mentor may feel that they will be bypassed due to the protégé’s newly expanded knowledge. We’ve seen this in movies, and sometimes in real life, where the “kid” or new hire acquires knowledge from the more experienced person and sails to greater heights on the career ladder or garners more recognition. But what has also happened and is not always as visible, is the benefit to the one who has shared their knowledge. The intrinsic or internal satisfaction one receives as a result cannot be overlooked nor underestimated.
How often have you shown someone how to do something different or better and had that warm feeling of accomplishment afterwards? There’s a knowing deep within, that acknowledges what you know, how well you teach it and the kind of person you are. There’s also a corresponding increase in your level of knowledge! The questions asked by the protégé help to deepen their learning, as well as yours. You can’t teach well, what you don’t well know! So just in the sharing, there is the growing. As a mentor you take on the joy and satisfaction of sharing your knowledge and it inspires you to acquire more…and share more.
Why do you think more and more professionals, as they become more senior, want to share what they know by going back to schools to teach or to write articles or a book? Or retirees who want to spend time with the “kid” or new hire to share their life and business lessons. It’s because of the intrinsic satisfaction that comes from sharing, the resultant learning through the asking and the insights gained by the mentee or protégé.
So how does all of this impact your brand? Your ability to grow yourself and others as a contribution to your organization or company elevates your brand! Increasing the intellectual capital in an organization is what companies truly value. It can and does result in innovations and leadership that their customers pay for. It will set them apart from competitors!
To be known as the thought leader, who shares his knowledge to uplift the protégé, company and profession is one of the strongest branding messages you can develop! It will set you apart!
While building your portfolio of knowledge and expertise is important and valuable, teaching it to others as a means of accelerating their, and as a result your learning and contribution, is vital to your career. You don’t have to be a team leader, manager or executive to be a mentor and certainly not to be an effective one. Desire is your first step!
To begin adding mentoring into your portfolio, you can start small…
- take on one mentee or protégé in your department
- meet with them once a month and find out what their challenges are
- look for the opportunity to share your insight and wisdom and most importantly – encouragement, in a supportive and caring way
Just having these connected, confidential discussions and acting as a sounding board is a gift in itself! (for both of you!)
Start small but start today and you will be well on your way to creating and personalizing your brand!