National Mentoring Day: Are marketers missing out?

27.10.2020

National Mentoring Day: A missed opportunity for many marketers

Today marks National Mentoring Day. A day dedicated to celebrating mentoring, recognising professional excellence and the benefits mentoring can bring, as well as encouraging more people to get involved.

The value of mentoring is clear to see. Mark Zuckerberg, Oprah Winfrey, Sheryl Sandberg, Richard Branson even Dr. Martin Luther King had a mentor. Rarely do you read an autobiography from a famous figure without a mention of a mentor who helped turn things around or provide that one piece of advice or helped hone a soft skill that meant the world to the individual. There really are benefits to be had at all levels of seniority for marketers.

Unfortunately, research shows that some marketers and professionals are still missing out. According to Sage, 97% of people who have a mentor believe they are valuable. 55% believe that mentoring has helped them succeed, but worryingly, 85% of professionals currently do not have a mentor.

CIM has supported marketers for over 100 years. We launched our mentoring platform in September 2014 to boost professional development and empower marketers across the industry. The popular platform now supports 2,500 active members from brands such as PwC, Samsung, British Airways, Panasonic and is available to both UK and international marketers.

You may have thought that CIM’s mentoring activities have stopped due to COVID-19 and local lockdowns, but you would be wrong. Over the past months, CIM has hosted online webinars, published advice articles and our mentors have taken to video conferencing to carry on their mentoring duties. 

So why are so many people missing out? We address some of the common myths that might be stopping people from getting a mentor or taking on a mentee:

Myth number 1: Mentoring is only for individuals

Wrong. Mentoring is not only for individuals. In fact, research shows that 70% of small businesses that receive mentoring survive for five years or more, which is double the rate compared with non-mentored small businesses.

Myth number 2: Mentors are only beneficial to young people or graduates looking for a career in marketing/other disciplines

Not true. Mentors can help professionals at all levels, throughout their careers, whether that is in marketing or in another industry. They can help you gain confidence, meet contacts and climb your career ladder.  

Myth number 3: Mentors must be more superior than the mentee

A mentor is someone who is more experienced and knowledgeable in a certain field and is willing to pass down their experience and help you — but experience is often confused with seniority. Truthfully, a mentor could be younger or more junior in their marketing/other industry role, as long as he or she has had a certain work or life experience that a mentee can benefit from.

Myth number 4: A person can only be a mentor or a mentee, not one or the other

It’s possible for someone to have experience in one field while lacking experience in another, meaning it is possible, for a person to both take on the roles of both mentor and a mentee, so long as they have the experience and skills to wear both these dual hats.

Myth number 5: The mentor owns the relationship with the mentee

A mentoring relationship is based on a respected partnership which shows trust, honesty and respect. If your marketing mentor owns the relationship or always tells the mentee what to do, without listening to their views on how to work the partnership, it takes away the equality aspect of the partnership. Remember, a mentoring relationship is a two-way process, the mentor provides skills, knowledge and understanding in order to challenge the mentee’s ideas. At the same time, the mentor can learn from the mentee and visa versa, as mentors are always actively looking for new insight and feedback from their mentees. Mentoring is all about guiding the mentee and working around their needs.

Myth number 6: Mentoring is a slow process and takes up a lot of time

Mentoring does require a certain amount of time, but once a relationship is developed it can be as quick a coffee catch up or zoom call. Many mentors use tools like scheduling aids and time management tools to set clear agendas and organise meetings so not to clash with working hours or family commitments.

Myth number 7: Mentoring stops once objectives have been achieved

How long a mentoring relationship lasts, is completely up to the mentor and the mentee’s discretion. It’s helpful to have a timescale at the start of the mentoring partnership to showcase the different goals and how and when, realistically, these goals can be achieved. However, once the goals are met and the mentee decides to not carry on the mentoring, it may be useful for your mentor and the mentee to keep in contact through a follow up check in after six months of the partnership ending, to see how things have developed.

Myth number 8: Mentoring is for marketers and other professionals who have not been successful

Mentoring is a tool for development and to learn new skills and experiences – it is not just for those who have hit a challenge or are seeking a new job. In fact, the most highly successful marketers and professionals, actively seek out mentoring or other guidance to help them achieve their goals. Mentoring is a great way for anyone to transition into new fields, whether that is marketing, as it is a chance to open up new doors and to seek new opportunities.

Myth number 9: The mentor has to give expert advice on ‘mentoring’

Mentors need to have the experience, knowledge or skills but it doesn’t mean they need to be an expert when providing these three factors. They have to be open to the idea that they might not have all the answers that their mentee is looking for and in some cases, the mentee might know the answer instead, which brings in the two way dialogue.

Myth number 10: Mentoring gives quick results for marketers and other professionals

Mentors encourages the mentee to find his or her own answers through self-study and their own exploration. The mentor helps the mentee by sharing experiences, challenging ideas, and providing advice and guidance. The mentee still has to think on their own, use their own initiative and find his or her own path, which is why mentoring cannot give quick results. Building skills and knowledge to become a better marketer or professional in another field, takes time and commitment.

Myth number 11: The best mentors work at other companies and make more than you do

While you are likely to look for a mentor who is more experienced, which means they likely to earn more and are in a higher job role than you, that shouldn’t be the determining factor in your decision to suggest they are the best in mentoring. For example, if you’re new to a certain type of business, for example in a marketing agency or in house marketing department, working with someone who may relatively be more junior than you, but has been doing their job for a while, could be very helpful to give you a base of valuable knowledge that you need to move forward in your career.

Myth number 12: The mentor or mentee you have now is your first, last and only mentor or mentee you will have during the mentoring relationship

Not true. As you develop, either as a mentor or a mentee, the person or company you will want to work with will develop too. Either you will change disciplines, for example from business to marketing, making their experience less relevant to your current needs. If you are a mentor, you might find that you’ve reached the maximum advice and skills that you can offer your mentee and therefore the mentee may want to move on to someone else who can develop that knowledge and skills you have learnt from your previous mentor and take it up a level or in a different route, depending on where you want to go in your career.

Myth number 13: Mentees will only use the mentoring relationship in order to get a better job or to seek better job opportunities

There are lots of reasons why mentees and mentors choose to enter into a relationship with one another. Finding the next best job role or job opportunity isn’t always high on the list of goal priorities. Although, mentoring focuses on the mentee developing their skills and knowledge in a specific field, the mentor also benefits, often learning what they are providing the mentee and also in some cases, learning from the mentee, if they can provide new ideas and knowledge that the mentor can take on board and is beneficial to them.

What can CIM offer you to help you take the first step?

If you are a senior marketer looking to develop talent within your ranks or a junior marketer simply looking to develop your marketing career or to seek some advice, CIM can help support you. There are free mentoring articles online and key information here. CIM offers members, a comprehensive mentoring scheme, which is accessible through MyCIM, matches aspiring marketing professionals to experienced mentors from a range of sectors.

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