What does it mean to be a mentor?

Whether you know it or not, you’re likely someone’s mentor. What does it mean to be a mentor? It means sharing yourself and your experiences with someone who is open to learning. It may be as simple as sharing a best practice with a new or prospective court reporter or it can be a formal mentoring program. As a mentor, you may find you learn as much as your mentee if you’re open to the experience.

When opportunity knocks…

As you’re out networking or visiting clients, think about who you’re talking to and what you’re saying. This week I had a colleague call to ask if she could pick my brain about blogging. Part of me cringed because there’s the exchange of time for my knowledge without compensation while at the same time my gut told me to take the call. I took the call and am glad that I did. What started as me offering ideas to my colleague turned out to be inspirational for me, not to mention a business opportunity. That’s what I like to call an unexpected mentorship opportunity.

It’s an opportunity to share your knowledge with someone who is truly listening and wants to learn. If you keep your mind open to the possibilities, you too could learn from the experience.

Benefits of being a mentor

As a mentor, you’re given a unique opportunity to hone your skills as a leader without the pressure of a boss or annual review looming. You’re able to spread your wings, teach, listen, and learn.

When I was in Toastmasters I was asked to be a mentor for another member. She was nervous giving her speeches to the point that she’d stop speaking and get frustrated. As a Toastmaster, we’re slaves to the timer so that we can develop our skills and my mentee was missing the mark. The worst part was that at the core, her speeches were filled with descriptive images and interesting stories.

We worked together on her next three speeches. While she was still a developing speaker, she was able to make it through her speeches and the audience was providing positive feedback. It was amazing to be a small part of that experience and to watch her grow.

However big or small, formal or informal, we’re mentoring people with our words and actions.

I encourage you to share your experience and if the opportunity arises, become a mentor. Whether that’s for a new Chicago court reporter or someone outside the industry, I assure you it will be a valuable personal and professional experience for you and your mentee.