It’s no secret that building a strong network is one of the keys to success. Not surprisingly many of us identify networking as the number one benefit of CMMA membership. But what about networking within the work environment, do we really need to network internally too? After all, there’s rarely a shortage of work for most of us. And many would argue that’s the reason for networking. While it’s hard to argue with that, I would add a few additional reasons:
- Networking helps build customers beyond your existing organic base
- Networking provides a vehicle for collaboration
- Networking gives you opportunities to champion your team
- Networking can help keep your group relevant
- Networking can secure your team’s place at the table
- Networking has the potential to showcase your leadership acumen
So what has all of this to do with mentoring? In a word – EVERYTHING. Having mentors is essentially networking with a higher purpose. Networking through mentoring allows you to develop yourself as well as your department. If you’re not quite sure how to get started here are a few thoughts:
- See if your organization has a formal mentoring program. Start with your HR rep. These programs are often reserved for up and coming high potentials and aren’t broadly advertised. I learned recently that if you ask nicely they sometimes consider medium potentials too! I guess my point here is – don’t wait for an invitation.
- Identify respected leaders within the organization and ask about an informal mentorship. Look for folks you know you can learn from. I currently have four key leaders in our organization that I meet with on a quarterly basis. Each of these relationships have helped me grow as a leader, brought in new business to my team and given me a level of visibility I wouldn’t have had otherwise.
- Think about departments your team relies on like IT, Public Affairs, Legal…
- Identify a leader in a department that your team doesn’t have a good relationship with. As my peer Greg Sneed likes to say, “it’s an ecosystem folks, not a battlefield”.
- Look for mentors in CMMA!
Once your mentors are in place here are a few additional tips:
- Always bring a question or two. It’s not the job of the mentor to simply share their knowledge. You are responsible for driving the conversation.
- Bring a problem and a solution – to see what they think of your fix rather than simply asking how to handle a tough one.
- Be humble. This works in every relationship by the way.
Lastly, keep in mind that most people like being asked their opinion. I’ve yet to be told no when asking about mentoring possibilities. After all, who doesn’t enjoy hearing, “what do you think”? This works up, down and across the organization. Ask the CEO or the Intern and they will both love you for life!
This article contributed by Clifton Brewer, CMMA Board of Directors