At the beginning of August we brought back our highly successful IG Live Career Development Series #Networkingforcareersuccess, but this time with a twist. For this special 4 part series, we focused on mentorship. We sought some of the top career mentors and asked them to share with us their top networking and mentorship tips.
As part of this series we interviewed Tara Fela Durotoye (Founder House of Tara International), Bankole Williams (Author, Coach, Consultant and Speaker), Folashade Ambrose Medebem ( Director Communications, Public Affairs and Sustainable Development, Lafarge PLC and Founder Women Inspiring Impact Network), and Osayi Alile (CEO, ACT Foundation).
Here are the top tips we learnt from Folashade Ambrose Medebem, Director Communications, Public Affairs and Sustainable Development, Lafarge PLC and Founder Women Inspiring Impact Network on mentorship and networking for career success.
On her first mentor first mentor
My first mentor didn’t know she was mentoring me until we became friendly. I was just observing her and doing what she did because I loved her work ethic- it was mentorship by observation
On the difference between men and women networking styles
Men are bold, they know how to brag and come across as being very confident. They have the ole boys network, even when they don’t necessarily have the qualifications, they support each other. Women need to catch up on this.
On networking mistakes
I have lost opportunities. There were times when I should have seized the moment but didn’t. My advice to other women is to not fluff opportunities. Seize the opportunity when you see it. But before then do your research. Know who they are and what they are interested in. Also listen to what they say and to their body language.
On becoming her mentee
I am very disinterested when people say to me will you mentor me. Instead I prefer when people come with an actual question. Tell me why you believe I am the best person to answer that question. It shows me that you have done your research.
On accessing mentors
Be clear on what you want from the relationship. Do your homework and understand their interest so you can bring out the best in them
What value do you bring to the table, what can you bank. Make it a two way relationship.
Lessons from mentors
Be audacious…they always challenged all my excuses by asking the question. ‘why not’?
I am an introvert but I have worked hard to exhibit some elements of extroversion. I make a lot of connections with people and I use LinkedIn to network virtually. The higher you go the more focused you should be on networking.
On personal branding
1st impressions are very important when you network. Even the way you shake someone’s hand is so important. Give eye contact. Know what you stand for and let your name be synonymous for something
On dealing with networking fear
Women are naturally very sensitive and can also be hostile to other women but don’t let that deter you. Instead prepare and plan ahead.
The way I am today, in my mind, I do not see obstacles. I had to train myself. If you know you are shy, take a friend to ginger you on.
Fear is a state of mind. Believe you can and work on your mindset before you leave home
On cultivating the mentor/mentee relationship
Keep your mentor engaged. Be persistent. Share your progress and issues you are having. Have tangible conversations. They are busy and don’t have time for small talk. Find out what value you can bring to them. You can have several mentors across board.
Women need to speak up more in the workplace. Women don’t support each other enough and we need to do more to improve on that.
On women succeeding in the workplace and transitioning
Start proving yourself. Put yourself forward. Take on extra projects. Work on things that are really impactful to the business. Ask people what their priorities are and make sure you are visible to them.
Do something you enjoy. When you seek to transition don’t lose your experience. Understand your unique selling point. Do your research and understand where you are going. See where mentoring can come in so you don’t make mistakes.
Be deliberate in all your interactions. Identify who the influencers are in your workplace/sector and know the value you can bring. Also ask your mentor about how to find a sponsor.