Smart careerists know it’s important to take advantage of opportunities that could lead to the realization of an objective, like access to a key contact or a competitive edge in the race for a prized job, or exposure to something—or someone—typically beyond reach.
We recently wrote about one such opportunity boon for entrepreneurs—the business mentor. Yet with all a hard-scrabbling junior professional or young start-up owner might gain from a sage counselor, can the business mentors themselves expect to gain any personal benefits in exchange for their advice and time? Or are the perks all one-sided?
What a Veteran Pro Can Gain From Pairing Up With an Up-and-Comer
Indeed, deciding to become a business mentor does come with quite a few benefits.
First, there’s the obvious: it simply feels good to help others.
In fact, one study of volunteers found participants felt stronger and happier when they gave time to helping others. Some even reported feeling calmer and less depressed. This “helper’s high” commonly increases feelings of self-worth.
No More Manic Mondays
Sure, mentors might be in position to enjoy the fruits afforded their elevated stature. A better job, higher salary, professional esteem. But that doesn’t exclude them from the negative effects of a last-minute soured deal or disloyal employee or untimely traffic snarl.
But did you know that becoming a business mentor could make you more resilient to these everyday emotional lows?
The same study found that feelings of higher self-worth make volunteers more resilient to the minor “everyday” crisis that can trigger emotional reaction. That means an accomplished pro who regularly commits his time to a mentee might be able to more easily roll with these unfortunate (yet common) punches because he’s generally happier.
Business Mentoring is Good Talent Development and PR
This “giving back” concept has value on a more practical level, too. A recent study published in the Journal of Vocational Behavior suggests employees who serve as mentors report being happier in their jobs and are more committed to their employer.
Not only does business mentoring facilitate institutional knowledge transfer, it increases the mentor’s feelings of value within the company ecosystem.
Helping Others is Good For Your Health
The aforementioned study also uncovered altruism can improve physical health and lengthen lives, with participants reporting fewer aches and pains than non-participants (people who didn’t volunteer).
Plus, when we do good deeds for others, we lower our stress levels and produce less cortisol, a hormone causing cell-level changes associated with premature aging.
Learning From the Next Generation
If the mundane of your day to day job has you in a business rut, becoming a mentor might be just what you need to spur the next phase of your career. After all, what up-and-comers lack in experience, they typically make up for in enthusiasm and fresh ideas. Partnering with a young and energetic idealist will likely remind you why you got into business in the first place, and renew your faith in what you can do in the business world.
Maybe you’ll generate an idea for a new business venture, or a creative new way to approach a nagging problem of your own simply by helping a mentee talk through their circumstances and needs. While your protege learns “how things get done,” you may in turn learn how new technologies (for instance) can change the way you do business.
Mentors Need to Think Ahead, Too
Mentoring isn’t strictly for the near-retirement set. At whatever junction you find yourself in your career, the possibility exists for them to still advance.
Whether on staff with the same employer or an entirely different one, mentoring can serve as a bridge on a resume, adding credibility to a transition attempt from corporate to non-profit worlds. It could also be some valuable weight to the CV of anyone considering a civic appointment or seat on a non-profit board of directors.
Leave Your Mark as a Business Mentor
If you’ve ever moved on from a job but stayed friends with old co-workers, you likely experienced a pang or two when your phone stopped ringing with questions. Your replacement figured things out, and all was finally under control.
Moving on is inevitable and healthy, but it can be bittersweet. As a business mentor, you have the opportunity to pass knowledge and experience on to any interested person. The longer your tenure, the more young proteges you can help ascend the professional ladder.
What You Can Do Right Now
Are you convinced of the benefits you’ll enjoy by becoming a business mentor? These could be some of your first steps:
- Check with your employer’s Human Resources or Training departments to see if a formal program is in place to groom mentors and match them with promising proteges. Even if you haven’t heard of such a program, it might just be poorly promoted or even in the works.
- Sign up to be a business mentor with the SCORE Association, a non-profit training and business resource organization geared to guide entrepreneurs along a path to success.
- A little word-of-mouth could go a long way. Let some of your peers, department heads or respected business associates know you’re interested in mentoring a junior person. Someone you know may be able to help you connect with an eager mentee.
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