Can mentoring overcome the awkwardness of small talk?   

All of us can benefit from knowledge exchange at any point in our career, and one of the most effective ways to facilitate this is through mentorship. Mentoring enables you to share your knowledge and passion, as well as acquire skills and know-how, to get ahead in your professional development. It is a form of learning and sharing that is not restricted to anyone at any certain time in their career. Nor does it require a particular qualification. There are myriad benefits:  

  • Mentees are promoted five times more often than those without mentors (Source

  • Mentors themselves are six times more likely to be promoted (Source

  • 87% of mentors and mentees feel empowered by their mentoring relationships and have developed greater confidence (Source)  

And some that you might not immediately think of. For example, initiating small talk is a skill needed for virtually every career, at any level, in any sector. Whether networking, building rapport with your team or at the office water cooler, everyone needs to know how to strike up a conversation. Effective conversation starters lead to more meaningful discussions, which in turn increase chances of collaboration and generate more successful results.  

But not everyone feels naturally comfortable with networking, especially in this virtual world. Mentoring relationships are a way to improve and work on this critical skill, teaching both partners to: 

  1. Ask open-ended questions that require thought and further discussion, rather than closed questions requiring a yes or no answer that might shut a conversation down. 

  1. Ask follow-up questions that lead to further conversation and forge a deeper connection.  

  1. Listen, by being present, and therefore learn to respond thoughtfully and appropriately.  

Mentoring is a crucial tool for developing your leadership skills and taking your career to the next level. Having a trusted adviser to help you problem solve and see things from a different perspective can enable you to build relationships with peers and leaders that you may not have access to in your current role. Choosing a mentor outside your organisation and sector provides you with fresh insights and opens up new opportunities.  

Benefits for a mentee: 

  1. Make a new connection and expand your network 

  1. Accelerate your learning and development 

  1. Develop a new perspective on challenging situations to increase your chances of overcoming them 

  1. Increase your confidence and leadership skills 

  1. Improve your job satisfaction and effectiveness 

Mentors themselves gain a lot from mentoring too. Many mentors find that their leadership skills develop faster upon entering a mentoring relationship. It helps to hone active listening and coaching skills while serving as a reminder to lead by example. Mentoring and the thought leadership it requires, raises an individual's profile as a respected leader in their organisation and sector, and beyond. 

Benefits for a mentor: 

  1. Broaden your perspective by learning about challenges faced in different roles and organisations  

  1. Develop future leaders 

  1. Re-energise your career by expanding your leadership skills and teaching  

  1. Encourage self-reflection by appreciating your own achievements and lessons learnt  

  1. Give back to others.   

If you would like to try mentoring with a like-minded peer from another sector, sign up for WIG’s Mentor Match pilot - try it for 6 months free!