Regardless of where you are in your career, mentorship can play a pivotal role in helping you to feel motivated and engaged with your work on a daily basis.
What many social-impact professionals don’t often realize is that mentorship doesn’t need to come in the more traditional form of a senior-level manager guiding an entry-level employee. Consider these three suggestions for incorporating mentorship into any phase of your career.
Join a group of like-minded professionals
While you’re likely to find common threads among colleagues in the office, it can be especially encouraging to find a network of individuals who hold similar positions at different organizations. Not only will this help you to make new connections and develop valuable relationships, you may even discover new professional opportunities in your field.
Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
- If you’re early in your career, the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network (YNPN) has chapters throughout the country. You may also find it helpful to contact your alma mater to see if they have a group for fellow nonprofit professional alumni.
- LinkedIn groups can also be a helpful resource across a variety of issue areas.
- Local branches of associations such as the Association of Fundraising Professionals or the National Association of Nonprofit Professionals may help you find meetups and social opportunities.
Pro Tip: If you’re interested in meeting other social-impact professionals, head over to Idealist.org and search organizations and events near you. Don’t forget to use the filters to narrow your search!
Pursue learning and professional development opportunities
Mentorship and networking doesn’t always need to be restricted to face-to-face interactions. You may find it more appealing and convenient to seek out mentors and coaches in the digital space.
If you’re already engaging with groups via Nonprofit Twitter chats and NTEN online groups and you’re current with webinars on platforms like Nonprofit Tech for Good, Nonprofit Marketing Guide, Nonprofit Hub, and Blackbaud, step up your involvement by:
- Reaching out to a speaker or webinar host you enjoyed learning from in the past.
- Suggesting a learning topic or giving feedback to webinar organizers.
- Emailing a question to an expert in your issue area.
Oftentimes, you needn't look beyond your laptop to build relationships with peers and potential mentors.
Be a mentor
With all of this knowledge gained, one of the most rewarding things you can do is pass it on. It may happen naturally if you find yourself supervising interns or managing a team, but if you don’t have any direct reports, try taking your knowledge to some of the same channels you used to find a mentor when you were newer to the workforce.
- Host Twitter chats and look for opportunities to lead webinars or online courses.
- Contact your alma mater to see if there are mentoring opportunities available.
- Find a professional group or association such as the Women’s Foreign Policy Group or a nearby YNPN chapter where you can offer your services as mentor or adviser.
Mentoring doesn’t have to be a time-consuming activity; it can be easy to find an arrangement or opportunity that works with your schedule, interests, and specialty.
As you progress professionally, the role of mentorship in your life may change shape, but it’s something you can continue to incorporate into your social-impact career for long-lasting results.
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About the Author | Yoona Wagener is a freelance writer and WordPress developer who believes in the value of nonlinear career paths. She has experience in academic publishing, teaching English abroad, serving up customer support to software end users, writing online help documentation, and mission-driven nonprofit marketing and communications.