By Dirk Vennix.
Why does a sector leader who is busy delivering change have time to be a mentor? I have because I am passionate and driven about self-improvement. If you’re unsure how mentoring might work my personal experiences may help you on your way.
When I was head of PR for a local council and edited its weekly newspaper, I asked the team’s PA to write an article on her own and it was excellent. I encouraged her to write more pieces, paid for a journalism course and eventually she became the editor. Before she retired our PA had published a book with short stories. That’s the power of mentoring.
Like in any career a PR practitioner does need incremental boosts of confidence. When I was doing my first ever TV interview I found mentoring tips such as twenty second messages, curve balls and seating posture made it go well. If you’re writing your first press release, you will most probably benefit from a second opinion on how creativity, brevity and language can land positive coverage.
As you feel more comfortable delivering most aspects of PR you could be looking for external recognition. Having a mentor as a sounding board encouraged me not only apply for an industry award but write it in such a compelling way that the team won it.
Mentoring can also inspire you to take the next step on the ladder. My mentor helped me to achieve professional milestones which led to my next job. When I generated global media coverage for a new product launch this proved to my prospective boss that I could deliver on a higher level. Transferable skills are like gold dust for employers, sooner or later they will lead to different roles.
If you are looking at management a mentor could provide valuable advice on how to get your team to perform. In the days before “Zoom calls” I remember managing eight people in three regions and the most important pearl of wisdom he gave was to listen carefully to the needs of each individual. Over the years I have learnt how to motivate different personalities, be sensitive to potential pitfalls and to always collaborate with your colleagues based on mutual respect and common objectives.
Gaining insights on how to manage relationships could also support your efforts to change public policy. Influencing key stakeholders can be a challenging process but my mentor and I had fun with this journey. She taught me how to think outside the box and persevere with the right messages. Policy changes duly followed.
I currently lead a major not-for-profit organisation in construction and the built environment but also have experience of working for corporates and publicly funded bodies in other sectors. I could help you move across to new industries and stay ahead of the game in our wonderful profession. Do look around your networks. Anyone in your personal and work life could be your mentor. I’m always happy to start a conversation about your next steps. Don’t hesitate to get in touch.