Why You Need a Reciprocal Mentor & How to Get One

Build Your SupportWhy? Successful women have the right networks, mentors and sponsor. BUT we regularly hear from women (especially in developing and emerging markets) who report not having mentors or knowing where to start to get the right support. We’re here to help you do just that. Keep an eye out this week for vital tips to infuse your path to professional success.

Rania Anderson (right) with her reciprocal mentor of two years, Darcy Howe.

On my path to professional success, I have greatly benefited from a couple of key reciprocal mentoring relationships, and you can too.

In Reciprocal Mentoring, two people with similar levels of achievement and ambition (but with complementary skill sets or networks) agree to regularly co-mentor each other. The co-mentoring relationship can be established within an organization or without an organizational affiliation; the co-mentoring relationship can be among two people from the same or different industries, and with someone of the same or opposite gender. Co-mentoring is not the same as occasionally – or even regularly – meeting a friend for coffee or lunch and talking about work.

Darcy Howe, a highly successful wealth management advisor, is one of my reciprocal mentors. While we of course have some notable differences, Darcy and I share some key professional and personal similarities, including a history in financial services and working at a large corporation as the foundation to each of our professional experiences. We are approximately the same age and have young adult children. But most importantly, we are in at a similar career stage.

Each of us has enjoyed very successful career progression and has now embarked on pursuing new uncharted and challenging professional objectives. While our objectives are very different, we are both pioneering new territory (for me, it is with The Way Women Work, for Darcy it is serving on a major corporate board). Although neither of us has achieved what the other is embarking upon, our individual and combined experiences, networks and skills serve to help the other think differently about our goals. Most importantly, we have great admiration for each other and are not afraid to be direct in our feedback and hold each other accountable to what we commit to do. As an added bonus, we conduct our regular co-mentoring sessions during brisk walks, getting fresh air and exercise while we support each other to further success.

Don’t make the mistake that many women make by undervaluing the positive impact that reciprocal/peer/co-mentoring can have on your career or business. Don’t believe that relevant mentoring comes only from a more senior or more experienced leader. Just as has been shown with reverse mentoring (wherein a more senior leader is paired with a younger employee) reciprocal mentoring can be extremely beneficial on your path to success in your career or business!

The four keys to a productive reciprocal mentoring arrangement are:

  1. Approach someone you admire and believe can be helpful to your business and career goals, and to whom you believe you can add professional value
  2. Mutually agree to embark on co-mentoring relationship
  3. Set specific business or career goals you’d like to accomplish and are willing to be held accountable for (each person does this)
  4. Establish a clear mentoring plan, including HOW:
    1. Often you will meet
    2. You will structure your conversations to allow each of you to seek and provide input and advice
    3. You will hold each other accountable

Would having a reciprocal or co-mentoring relationship help your career or business? What are you waiting for?

Ask the person you believe can help you today!