At a Society of Editors (WA) meeting tonight, I was asked to be a mentor by an enthusiastic wannabe editor.
I was both amused and flattered. She made a distinction between advice and ongoing support – someone who would show her the ropes and keep her from freaking out too much along the way.
You have to admire her enthusiasm and the fact that she stepped forward and asked. It got me thinking.
When I first started I desperately wanted a mentor too. I didn’t get one. These days, I blog about what I know and as I said to someone this week, I am happy to meet up one on one with people and take them through a whirlwind tour of what they want to know and what I can tell them about starting a business, freelancing, editing, writing or journalism. Or even social media as the case may be.
The people I generally end up having an ongoing series of discussions with are people who are writing stories and come running to me with “What do I now with this character?” type questions or those who start out in journalism which usually ends up with me nagging them to do certain journalistic type things and get involved and send off articles.
But what this person wanted got me thinking – is that kind of mentorship something I can offer in the long run – well, on an ongoing basis? Does it have to be systemized and limited such as so many people every few months? Or can it just happen ad hoc in respect to the kind of help each person needs?
Would there be certain kinds of things I’d be interested in doing as a mentor? In the past few days, there have been about three potential projects presented to me where I would be acting as a consultant on all things related to social media and marketing. I wouldn’t get anything out of these projects save getting to know more people and that’s fine, because if I have the time, I don’t mind helping someone learn how to do something when it relates to something that they are passionate about.
In the past couple of weeks, I have also provided two of my students with the opportunity to build up their journalistic experience. When I talk to people like this, it’s not so much giving them the opportunity or connecting them with people, but also encouraging them to see what they are capable of.
Earlier this year a journalist wanting to go freelance contacted me out of the blue via email wanting advice. When I sent her back an email full of it, she implemented all of it immediately and got work the next day as a freelancer.
So this brings me back to my point: should I make it official and actually start mentoring people? If so, how would I structure it if at all?
And as for what I can help people with:
1) I can help you get started as a freelancer and tell you what you need to know
2) I can help you get started as journalist/writer/editor
3) I can take you through the process of writing a book
4) I can advise you on social media and marketing
The person in question tonight eventually found someone to mentor her. The other point of the whole mentor/mentee relationship is that it has to be a good fit. You have to be able to not annoy the hell out of each other. You have to respect each other and I think also willing to learn from each other.
Give me a call – we’ll have a coffee. I don’t think I can open the entire contents of my brain for you while at a networking meeting. 🙂