As president of Apra Wisconsin, I know that mentorship is an urgent need for our members. While our chapter membership includes many seasoned veterans, every year brings new faces, some on large teams, and some working alone. When we receive back your membership forms, many of you check off the box for wanting a mentor, but only one or two of you check off the box indicating your willingness to be a mentor.
So, we have a gap. That’s easy to see, and I am sure we can all think of some reasons why: time, distance, expectations. But I think another reason may be that mentoring itself has many different definitions, so in addition to defining expectations, we need to define the activity itself.
I am going to start where many of us do, with Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mentorship (consider yourself warned: this article has 74 citations, compared to 2 in the entry on phantom stock).
Among the words and phrases which pop out to me are “guide,” “informal,” “sustained” (so far so good), “role modeling,” “transmission of knowledge,” “vast experience,” “change practice,” “catalyzing,” and “psychosocial support.” No wonder we hesitate to check the mentor box.
Besides the traditional mentorship pairing of an experienced PD pro with a less experienced one, I can think of a few alternative matchmaking services we might offer as a chapter; for example, pairing up people who work alone, and/or pairing up solo practitioners with people on large teams. And there’s got to be many more ways we can help each other.
Personally, I can never thank enough the people who helped me from my beginnings in prospect development, when I felt very isolated, to my days helping manage a team, and now as a small business owner. Some of you offered training, advice, and even affirmation, while others helped me envision and then navigate career changes. Recently, I’ve benefitted from the kindness and guidance of other prospect development consultants, Milwaukee entrepreneurs, and many of you.
We are a sharing and welcoming profession, and none of us should feel alone. To paraphrase something I heard at the Apra Chapter Leaders’ Summit, if you work by yourself, then Apra Wisconsin is your team.
So if we were to build a mentoring program in Apra Wisconsin, what do you think it should look like? Please use the following survey to share your ideas: https://forms.gle/HBWDcYMVoX96kaL8A