I tell people that mentoring pays every chance I get: “People who mentor rise higher and earn more than their colleagues who don’t, up to $25,000 a year more!”
My friend, Bela Friedman, principal of Bela Friedman Public Relations, an award-winning boutique public relations and marketing communications agency, read the article, Why You Should Be A Mentor by Stephanie Burns, on Forbes.com, where I said it yet, again. Bela told me, “I thought I’d like to know how to do that. And then I thought, I am doing that!”
Bela’s been mentoring a fellow public relations professional for about four years. As a direct result, she’s made far more than $25,000 a year in increased revenue. Here’s what happened.
“It started when I went to a PRSA (Public Relations Society of America) networking event. The person in charge of mentoring was at a table and was looking for mentors. I filled out an application and met the young woman who became my mentee at the event. We started talking and our relationship developed.”
“At the time, my mentee was working at a public relations agency and experiencing verbal abuse from her boss. She was very upset and wanted to know what to do; how to handle it. I gave her suggestions on how to be more assertive and made myself available to her on an on-going basis. We would meet maybe once every three or four weeks.
“We helped each other. She actually helped me figure out how my iPad worked. That was really great,” recalls Bela.
“My mentee was with that company for about two-and-a-half years, when she started looking for another position. I subscribe to Indeed.com, which is a career website. I’d get alerts and I found some interesting job opportunities, which I forwarded to her and encouraged her to apply to some of them. One of those leads paid off and she landed a great job.”
How did Bela benefit from mentoring, in addition to feeling really good that she’d done something nice for another person and being satisfied with that?
A client from her mentee’s first agency found out she’d left and they contacted her. They wanted to know if her new company would take them on as a client. But the new firm was much bigger and would have charged a lot more than the client was able to afford.
She referred that client to Bela’s smaller agency, “I’ve been working with them for more than two years. They have been giving me more business and are referring me to more clients,” she added with a satisfied smile.
About six months ago, Bela took on another mentee. “It’s very different because she’s a first-time business owner. When she contacts me or when we meet, it’s to ask about how to handle a client or situation. She’ll give me a scenario and say, ‘What do you think?’ And I’ll tell her how I would handle it.”
Bela vividly remembers how hard it was to start her PR firm about 30 years ago, “I had worked for some great bosses who mentored me along the way and taught me so much. But, when I started my own company, I didn’t know anything about running a business,” says Bela. “At first, it seemed almost too easy. I had seven clients, including my former boss. I leased space from a much larger agency and I thought it was great!”
Then by about the third month of being in business, she started losing clients. “I knew how to do the work, but didn’t know how to run a business,” she said. But, a generous mentor came to the rescue, “One of the agency owners I leased space from saw that I was billing at the end of the month and didn’t have a cash flow. He told me first to draw up a letter of agreement or contract, ask for the first month’s payment up front, and for subsequent payments at the beginning of each month. That’s how I got going and how my business started. I was a single mother at the time and this information was so important to me. It wouldn’t have happened without mentoring.”
Susan Bender Phelps is an author, speaker and founder of Odyssey Mentoring & Leadership, your resource for creating and running effective professional mentoring programs. You can follow her on Twitter @OdysseyMentor, or Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/OdysseyMentoring.