“It’s great to have people who believe in you around you. You have to earn that respect.” – Dawn Lepore, CEO, Lepore
Tonight I attended a networking event that featured some of Seattle’s women tech executives (we’ve got a lot of ‘em here!) The topic of mentorship was one of many these successful business women discussed tonight, and it’s resonated deeply with me. Mentorship is one thing I know I’m lacking in – both in mentoring others, and especially in having one or more of my own. Mentors are extremely helpful – in many cases, essential – for ‘getting ahead’ and bringing our dreams to life in business. Some mentorships are formal, but most are casual connections that build over time. They’ve been where you want to be, and can help you get to where you want to go.
I got to thinking as I sat there listening to the panel speak. As professional bloggers, how much are we devoting to mentorship? (And if you’re in any way making money or working with brands on your blog – yes, you’re a professional blogger.) Informal, widescale mentorship is happening every day here on IFB, but what about the specific connections you’re making one-on-one?
I am loyal to IFB because I’ve learned worlds about blogging from the experiences of my fellow contributors as well as the bloggers I’ve met at IFBcon and through its online community. In turn, I can share what I’ve learned and am learning with you. But I can say that I’ve never had a mentor specifically devoted to my blog. When I read about or draw from others for inspiration from afar, it’s usually around my consulting business or life in general. When I’ve talked to others one-on-one in either the mentor or mentee capacity, it’s again around life or my career. Why haven’t I found the space to talk to mentors around my blog’s goals or vision? My photography style, what skills I should brush up on, why certain things are working and others aren’t? To help me work through some of the grandiose ideas I have for my blog so that some of them can come to life?
As bloggers, we do so much on our own – especially those of us who started out over five years ago when there wasn’t much precedence or resources to pull from! Nowadays, we can not only learn from the mega-bloggers, but those who are in our own city and beyond. Why not reach out to a blogger you admire and ask to meet for coffee one day to talk shop? You might already think of doing that in a collaborative or community sense, but try it from a mentorship perspective. A mutual mentorship can help both of you work through struggles, and learn from each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
For me, I’m pondering who I can ask to be a business mentor to work with me through that side of blogging. Maybe you’ve got a business coach or mentor in mind to help you navigate through contract negotiations, brand outreach or approaching them, and proper disclosure of compensation. Whatever your reason(s) might be, I’m encouraging you to think about possible mentors and fold them into your blogging life. We are our own biggest critics and doubters; find those who can challenge and support you in breaking through your self-imposed fears and barriers to really take your blogging to new heights.