Finding Mentors

Published on
August 2, 2020
Time to read: 
Two women having a conversation seated across a table from each other.  Seen almost in silhouette due to the lighting of the large picture window in the backdrop.
Image of two women courtesy of ​Christina Morillo on Pexels

I’ve had the privilege of being mentored since I was a teenager, first by my parents and their military friends and more recently by business mentors. I’ve been actively mentoring other people for the more than 20 years. I’ve also been privileged to participate in peer mentorship. Every time I’m involved in mentorship regardless of the role, I learn something new.
Essentially, mentorship is when people act as trusted thought partners, helping each other out.  Mentorship partners also celebrate each others success. This week’s blog suggests ideas about where to find mentors.

Sometimes mentors show up when you least expect them. At my sister’s wedding, several of my parents’ friends made a point of seeking me out and sharing their advice on what I could do to help my military career. As a newly commissioned officer, I decided to listen and take note of what they said.  One after another they shared essentially the same advice. I figured that since most of them were senior officers they probably knew what they were talking about. The lessons they shared helped me map out a successful military career.

Since becoming a veteran, I’ve actively participated in mentorship through my professional associations. As a member of the Human Resources Professional Association (HRPA) I’ve had access to mentors and mentees through a Canadian online platform called MentorCity. Another of my professional associations – the Canadian Federation of Business and Professional Women (BPW Canada) has a more organic informal approach. BPW Canada members sometimes choose to enter peer mentoring relationships.

In June this year, I participated as a speaker in "Mentoring Models & Programmes" an international webinar, hosted by the Leadership in BPW Webinar Series. During that session I learned about two other BPW mentorship models

Lena Wong, Programme Chair, BPW Hong Kong told us about a 1-1-1 mentorship model. Where BPW Hong Kong members acted as a bridge between: Professional women who acted as the Mentor and University women. Ten teams of three worked together over a four-month period on project ideas to address social issues.
Sindy Leung, Immediate Past President, BPW Hong Kong told us about Reverse Mentorship where young BPW members shared their knowledge with those who had more life experience. I know that reverse mentoring works. One of my mentees taught me where I could find free quality online photos.  Another mentee invited me to write an article for the Ottawa Business Journal.
During the Mentoring Models & Programmes session, I talked about the MentorCity platform, and its flexibility when used as an enterprise tool to host mentorship programs.  By the way, MentorCity offers a free version available to everyone.

When I became an entrepreneur, my father who started a consulting company several years before, once again became one of my active mentors. I’ve also had the privilege of several entrepreneurs in the Bay of Quinte sharing their wisdom with me. The Small Business Centre regularly hosts free learning sessions. One of their recent sessions was on Mentorship! If you’re thinking of starting your own business, or you already have, I recommend signing up for the Small Business Centre newsletter to keep up to date on the wide variety of valuable learning sessions, where you just might meet the right mentor for you.

Another opportunity to meet potential mentors is participating in the annual Quinte Business Week events put on by the Bay of Quinte region chambers of commerce. Each October, while the rest of Canada celebrates Small Business Week, the Bay of Quinte region puts on several networking events and free training sessions. Mark your calendars, the next Quinte Business Week is scheduled for October 19-23, 2020.

For a successful mentorship, you need a certain level of trust. While some people are comfortable talking about burning issues immediately upon meeting, the majority prefer to build at least a modicum of rapport before getting down to business. If you’re on the look out for a mentoring relationship start with those you already know and trust. If they’re not the right match for you, or they don't have the time to mentor right now, they may be able to refer you to someone else.

​Where did you find your mentor(s)?