peer mentoring bend oregonWhat is peer mentoring?

It is inspiring. It is productive. It is proven. It is an opportunity for success. And it is what you make of it. But there are a few things it is also, not. It is not a guarantee for success, it is not passive, it is not professional coaching, it is not networking and it is not easy.

These are the common misconceptions about peer mentoring, and understanding what it is NOT, can also help determine if a peer mentorship program like the one Opportunity Knocks facilitates, is the right professional leap for you or your business or career.

What Peer Mentoring is NOT!

Peer mentoring is not a guarantee for success.

While credible mentorship programs like the one at Opportunity Knocks have an amazing track record for catapulting executives and businesses to the next level, it is not a guarantee for success. That’s because the real work falls upon the participant to listen and apply what is learned to their particular professional situation. This can help leaders develop, improve culture, increase employee retention, promote inclusion, and increase overall leadership, confidence and professional success. But progress and success are a bi-product of commitment, accountability and hard work within the program by each individual team member.

Peer mentoring is not passive.

In order to have a successful mentorship, engagement is key. This means participating from both the mentor and mentee standpoint, and taking every opportunity to actively listen, talk or participate and apply the free-flowing knowledge, tips and advice to your particular situation.

Unlike coaching or training, where one can passively sit and listen to specific details of how to approach something professionally, mentoring requires each mentee to dig for information, advice and keys to success by participating, actively listening, engaging, questioning and applying the knowledge to their particular situation.

Peer mentoring is not the same as professional coaching.

While your peer mentor(s) can act as a resource, offer advice and guide you toward success in your business or career, they are not career coaches. Coaches are paid for their services and participate in a professional relationship where there is more teaching/training versus mentoring.

On the other hand, mentoring is voluntary and the reward comes from the exchange of ideas, resources and advice, making it a two-way relationship. In addition, coaching is a learning opportunity that comes from listening to a professional coach and taking specific advice for advancement of your career, much like a professor or teacher. Mentoring is much more organic–the conversations and topics ebb and flow freely without specific goals or curriculum in mind to “teach” something over a particular course of time. Mentees are required to use their time in the program to draw their own conclusions and find how each topic or conversation applies to their particular situation.

Mentoring is not networking.

Mentoring is far more engaged, formal and committed than a networking group. Generally, networking is sporadic and casual, whereas peer mentoring is often facilitated, planned, regular and frequent. Opportunity Knocks of Central Oregon, for example, meets monthly for three- four hours a session and frequent attendance is a commitment to peers and a requirement for success. Networking events often have an amenable time line and one can drop in and out as they please, and attend when convenient.

Mentoring can, however, be a great opportunity to engage with other successful members of the local business community and make connections much like a professional network, but a relationship is not a guarantee because–as with any relationship–relationships require effort, reciprocation and a mutual fondness for one another.

It is up to each mentee to make the most of the business relationships and connections made through their mentorship program. If a participant takes advantage of a relationship or ruins the relationship by not being reliable or respecting one-another’s time, most likely participants will stop making connections on behalf of the mentee and therefore eliminate that element of opportunity.

Mentoring is not easy.

Peer mentoring means goal-setting, frequent communication, and a consistent effort to learn and connect with fellow participants on a transparent and deeper level. Attendance is important, and active participation is expected no matter if the topic at hand applies to your particular situation or not. The key is finding a way that each topic does relate to you, your business or your employees and sharing stories of your experience.

In addition, mentoring can be incredibly rewarding, interesting and inspiring, but it can be difficult, pride-swallowing, and unfun sometimes because constructive feedback and accountability is an essential element for peer mentoring success. So, if you were hoping your mentoring program would look like a therapy session or cheerleading endeavor, you will likely be disappointed. And while all feedback and information exchanged should have an air of positivity and progress, only dwelling or championing your own issues, troubles or successes is not productive.

Find out more about what peer mentoring looks like! Contact one of our team members to find out more about our program and local success stories attributed to the participation on our over thirty teams by starting a conversation with us today: /contact-ok/ .

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