BMA Young ProfessionalsThere was a record turnout for the BMA Young Professionals’ February 23 panel discussion on tips and tricks for accelerating your career with a mentor. Hosted in partnership with the Motorola Solutions Young Professionals Group at Motorola’s innovation center, the panel featured:

  • Moderator Elly Deutch, Global Social Campaign & Advocacy Manager, McDonald’s Corporation
  • Liu Jones, Director of Mentorship, Chicago Youth Opportunities Initiative
  • Julie Northcutt, CEO, Caregiverlist.com
  • Galina Andrushko, Administrative Assistant, Wrigley

Former BMA National President (and current Motorola Solutions Chief Innovation Officer) Eduardo Conrado kicked off the evening’s discussion with some great insight on the value of mentorship. Moderator Elly Deutch then peppered panelists with questions about their experiences learning as mentees and guiding as mentors. An open Q&A session for event attendees rounded out the evening.

Panelists covered a lot of ground during the course of the conversation, but several takeaways about how to find a mentor and get the most out of the relationship stood out in particular:

Don’t force the relationship — let mentorship flow naturally. Whether you’re participating in a formal networking program at your office or have a more informal setup with your mentor, the relationship should be allowed to flow naturally. A mentorship should be something that both parties are eager to be part of. If it’s forced, you’ll feel it. That won’t bode well for getting the most out of your mentorship in the long run. All this being said, though, effort is required on both the part of the mentor and mentee — you get out what you put in!

Think of mentoring as building your network. Motorola’s Eduardo Conrado, who kicked off the evening, and panelist Julie Northcutt talked about the value of building a vast network of mentors who can help you grow in different aspects of your life. In short, build a personal “board of directors,” made up of people across a range of industries and with a wide array of skills and experiences. You can tap these people for advice and guidance throughout the course of your career.

If you’re a mentee, bring something to the table. A mentorship should be a mutually beneficial relationship. If it’s all one-sided all the time, chances are it won’t last. Mentees can help mentors in a variety of ways: providing valuable insight on how strategy is being implemented with boots-on-the-ground staff, lending perspective on up-and-coming trends, etc. The point is, a mentee needs to bring something of value to the mentor-mentee relationship.

Don’t be afraid to directly ask someone to be your mentor. You don’t know whether someone would be open to being your mentor until you ask. Asking can be as simple as saying, “Hey, I really appreciate the time and advice you’ve given me. Would it be OK if I checked in from time to time?” The biggest suggestion from our panel on making the ask: Just do it! Oftentimes, the most challenging hurdle to overcome is your own self-consciousness about asking. Our panel did suggest that you only formally ask someone to be your mentor after you’ve got a couple of meetings under your belt, once you’re confident you “click” with each other.

Set goals, both short-term and long-term. Putting some definition behind what you want to get out of your mentor relationship is key to making it successful over time. Goals can be as narrowed-in as wanting to improve public speaking and presentation confidence, as both panelists Julie Northcutt and Galina Andrushko experienced. Or, like Liu Jones, goals can be just having someone you can go to throughout the evolution of your career — someone who you trust to give you honest feedback about an idea or career move.

Did you miss this event? Don’t worry. More are in the works. The BMA Young Professionals’ next event is around the corner on April 26. We’ll be getting together for a social to connect and network. We hope to see you there!

Interested in learning more about the BMA Young Professionals? Contact Julia Poroshkova.