5 Ways to Get Involved in National Mentoring Month

Mentoring is an invaluable experience and an opportunity to give back, learn how you can get involved

National Mentoring Month is a social observance that occurs each January that encourages mentorship. Mentoring can take many forms, but most typically, it’s a relationship in which a more experienced person helps a less experienced person. Yet, the relationship isn’t only beneficial for the mentee—it’s also a privilege for mentors. They have the joy of watching someone progress and gain confidence in their endeavor – whether professional, such as advancing in a specialized field, or personal, like learning to play chess.

In an effort to encourage mentoring, we spoke with Kim Costa, a Social Media Strategist on our Small Business team, and asked her insight on ways to get involved in National Mentoring Month.

Proactively Become a Mentor

Mentoring is an invaluable experience and an opportunity to give back, yet 1 in 3 young people will grow up without having a mentor, according to MENTOR National. So if you’ve had the privilege of being coached by an exceptional mentor, now is the time to become one. Successful mentorship always comes full circle.

“I had an incredible mentor who helped develop my career path. She played such a huge part in my life and now I feel a  responsibility to pay that forward,” says Costa. “I know how much it meant to me, so I want to offer my expertise to someone else.”

To become a mentor, start by reaching out to organizations (such as Boys and Girls Clubs of America or MENTOR National) that match mentors with mentees. Or, use your personal network and let those in your circle know that you’re looking for mentoring opportunities. 

“One thing that worked for me was meeting with people in my department and putting my name out there as someone who wanted to get involved,” continues Costa. “I think having those conversations and letting your leaders know that you’re interested is really the first step.”

Thank a Mentor

Who has had the greatest impact on your life or career? Whether a relative, friend, teacher or employer, National Mentoring Month is a perfect time to express your gratitude and appreciation. 

“I really think it’s important to let people who’ve helped you along the way know how much they mean to you,” notes Costa. “I’ve sent a couple of mentors in my life super-cheesy thankful messages on social media, often privately,” she says. “They usually take those messages and make their own public statement about it, and it just starts this whole circle of people talking about mentoring which I always appreciate.”

Share Your Mentoring Experience on Social Media

Social media is a powerful tool for bringing awareness to important and rewarding areas of life, so do your part and share your most memorable mentoring experiences on social media. To increase your reach, use the hashtags #NationalMentoringMonth, #SomeoneWhoMatters or #MentoringWorks.

Adding your voice to the mentoring movement can inspire others to share their own experiences, and encourage them to pay it forward, too.

Use these hashtags throughout the month of January, as well as on key days like “I Am a Mentor” Day on January 7 and International Mentoring Day on January 17.

Say “Yes” to Mentor Opportunities

Some people might shy away from mentoring because of fear, but don’t let self-doubt stand in the way of a rewarding experience. If someone reaches out and asks you to be a mentor, welcome the opportunity with open arms.

“I get people reaching out to me on social media asking if they can set up a quick call to talk about social strategy or how to get into the field, and I never say no because I feel it’s really important,” says Costa.

Do you feel that you wouldn’t make a good mentor? If so, you’re not alone. The reality, though, is that mentoring isn’t as scary as you might think. It involves listening, encouraging, asking questions, and giving objective feedback — basic skills you can learn. In the end, the mentee decides what path to take.

Costa relates an experience where a mentee left everything behind and moved across the country to transfer to a new office, only to have this office close a couple of weeks later.

“Obviously, it wasn’t ideal and super scary, but it gave her a chance to regroup and think about what was important to her, and then we spent a lot of time talking and going over strategies,” she says. “It was a big fork in the road, so we worked really hard together to decide what career path she should take.”

Seek Out a Mentor

If you’ve thought about getting a mentor, why not break the ice and reach out to someone this January? Granted, this might involve stepping outside your comfort zone, but it’s important to push through it, urges Costa.

“I think it’s intimidating when you start talking about reaching out to a stranger or talking to a leader in your department, but I’ve learned that people are willing to help—if you’re willing to take the first step and ask for it,” she says. “I was really surprised at the start of my career that everyone I asked to help was so excited and invested in me without knowing me. I’ve been ridiculously lucky, I totally acknowledge that, and that’s why I return the favor.”

Of course, it’s also important to work with the right mentor—someone who wants the relationship as much as you, and someone you get along with, warns Costa. “Don’t get frustrated if you’re setting up meetings and things aren’t working out. You’re not going to gel with every person you meet, so have patience.”

This advice is also applicable to those interested in becoming a mentor. “The more you show that you’re passionate about either finding a mentor or becoming a mentor, the more opportunities that will come your way,” she says.

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