How Mentorship Can Help You Get Ahead

NYWICI Mentoring Panel

Sage advice being doled out at the “Fastest Way to the Top” NYWICI panel.

Last week, we attended a great panel hosted by New York Women in Communications (NYWICI) called “The Fastest Way to the Top,” where five successful women at all stages of their careers discussed the importance of finding mentors and sponsors along the way to support you, offer advice and help you reach that next level of achievement.

Moderated by Erica Hill, co-anchor of NBC’s Weekend Today, the lineup included Ellen Archer, ABC Entertainment‘s Head of East Coast Development, and her longtime mentor, iVillage co-founder Nancy Evans; as well as Stacy Martinet, Chief Marketing Officer, Mashable, and her mentor Denise Warren, Executive Vice President, Digital Products and Services Group, The New York Times.

While the women-focused event was peppered with references to Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, much of the wisdom imparted during the panel could apply to men too, though as Archer pointed out, “We as woman are very good at developing friendships and men are good at business relationships. It’s important for women to get out there and develop those relationships as well. We’re somehow not as good at it.”

Below, some of the best tips for how to choose a mentor, become one yourself and learn from the generation ahead of you and behind you:

 

What Does Mentorship Mean?

The best of mentoring is when you can send [the person] an email and say, “When can you talk today?” Don’t just walk up to someone and say, “Will you be my mentor?”- Nancy Evans

People took notice of me because I did a great job. I showed up early, I stayed late. How can you make the bar higher? How do you get people to notice you? As a mentee, you have to trust your mentors. – Denise Warren

I admired a woman who was open to people at all levels. She recognized me as a junior staffer and said, “You did a great job; it doesn’t matter how much experience you have.” – Stacy Martinet

Reverse mentoring is great — digital natives can teach older people a lot about technology and social media. – Ellen Archer

 


What Can We Learn from Twenty-Somethings?

I don’t view this younger generation as stereotypically feeling entitled, but I have encountered people who think their path up should be quicker than ours. I see that this generation wants to build their skills –whether social media or program management– and we want to help them do that. – Denise Warren

The norms are different now. I Snapchat and text with my team at Mashable. The fact that they don’t have as many hang-ups as we do is good but it’s about balance. Things move very fast now — there’s a list [that comes out] every week of “Top 10 People under 30” and they want to get on those lists. – Stacy Martinet

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NEWS WE CAN USE: Killer Heels & Killer Instinct are Not Mutually Exclusive

Can’t women in tech have killer heels and a killer instinct?

How much does what you wear in the workplace make a statement about your skills and accomplishments? It depends: While it doesn’t seem to have affected Mark Zuckerberg’s success (we doubt Facebook’s stock price has dropped as a result of his refusal to wear anything but hoodies and sandals), at the same time, when you’re a tech entrepreneur trying to attract funding, partners and press, paying attention to your appearance and wardrobe can contribute to an image of success.

In Be Your Own Best Publicist, we talk about dressing the part  and how what you wear can pose a hindrance -at worst, a barrier to entry. It’s like that old saying, “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.”

And, for many women in Silicon Valley, cultivating a personal style has at least earned them and their startups some good publicity, as evidenced by this recent New York Times Style section story on a new crop of women in the tech space who unabashedly dress up in designer clothes.

In the article, Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, 42, a former Google executive who now runs a video shopping site called Joyus, said: “Earlier in my career, if I had to choose between a skirt and being taken seriously, I would have chosen being taken seriously. But now I’m at a point in my career in the valley where I’m judged by what I’ve done.”

Considering that the tech world is typically on the cutting edge of what’s new and modern, it sounds a bit archaic to us that a woman who walks into a meeting with venture capitalists wearing a designer skirt wouldn’t be taken seriously. If it was a hot pink mini skirt, perhaps, but dressing professionally and having a signature style should make a positive impression on others and show that you’re polished, smart and can run circles around those male tech geeks in t-shirts and jeans — even if you’re wearing five-inch Louboutins.

How do you think clothing impacts perception of your abilities?  Tell us here, on Facebook or on Twitter.

 

News You Can Use: Generation Sell, Share or Self-Employed? What People Saying About Gen Y

In one day, we read three articles about Generation Y in The New York Times and The New York Post — that covered topics from self-promotion and gossip to whether or not you really need to go to college to succeed. Here are the soundbites:

Millennials Embrace Entrepreneurialism & Salesmanship: On the front page of the Times’ SundayReview section, an article entitled “Generation Sell” by William Deresiewicz, paints Millennials as “polite, pleasant, moderate, earnest, friendly” and  comments that “We’re all selling something today, because even if we aren’t literally selling something…we’re always selling ourselves. We use social media to create a product — to create a brand — and the product is us. We treat ourselves as the business, something to be managed and promoted.” Our question is, “What is wrong with that?” In this extremely challenging job market that Gen Y is graduating into, if they don’t sell themselves, no one is going to do it for them. In order to get noticed, as we discuss in our book, Be Your Own Best Publicist, you must treat yourself as a product to be promoted.’

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News You Can Use: Fighting the Battle of Sexes When It Comes to Self-Promotion

In the “Workstation” column of The New York Times‘ Business section this past Sunday, Phyllis Korkki notes that “women need to prove themselves multiple times” in order to move ahead in the workplace, whereas men have much more latitude.

According to experts interviewed for the piece, we are still living in a world where being aggressive is a compliment when referring to a man and an insult when it describes his female counterpart. Executive coach Peggy Klaus adds that women spend more time praising others’ contributions than their own because self-promotion makes them uncomfortable.

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The Good, The Bad and the Scary: How Your Digital Profile Impacts Your Job


The Web still continues to be, in most minds, the Wild West (the WWW, if you will). Constantly changing, filled with danger and opportunity, you never know where the next shot will be fired and who will be the next sheriff in town. So, with that in mind, we share with you the WWW’s impact on your job search — Spaghetti Western-style: The Good, The Bad and the Scary:


THE GOOD: Getting Information and Access Is Easier Than Ever.

A lot has been said about companies using social media to identify and screen potential employees, particularly the newly minted set.  But now, the proverbial mouse is in the other hand, according to a recent survey — nearly 28 percent of college students plan to seek employment using LinkedIn. Slightly more than seven percent plan to use Facebook, a platform formerly seen as primarily social.

It’s that blurring of the lines that is actually putting the soon-to-graduate set in the driver’s seat; instead of waiting around for that recruiter to reach out, they’re using digital tools to identify and, ideally, land their ultimate gig. For them, the wealth of online information helps them cull through options to identify companies that align with their values and goals. All is fair game, and a strong digital presence is one way for employers to attract the best and brightest to their ranks.

THE BAD: The Internet never forgets.

Another survey — this one from the Society of Human Resource Management — shows that more companies are recruiting via social networking. Not surprising that almost 100 percent of recruiters use LinkedIn.  What might be news is that Facebook is the next most utilized Social Media site (58%), followed by Twitter (42%).

In addition to being careful about what you post, it’s a good practice to give pause before giving access. In other words, think twice about to whom and to which sites you give access to your Facebook profile. You are who you “hang” out with — one and offline; make sure you know the friends who have access to your profiles and that everyone you are connected to is carefully considering what they post to your wall or the photos you’re tagged in.

THE SCARY: Like it or Not, Everyone is A “Public Figure”

As we’ve said before – Google is your first resume. In Be Your Own Best Publicist, we caution that everything you say (or post) can and will be used against you. Run a red light? Cameras are there to catch it. Fall in a fountain accidentally? Someone is filming on a flip cam and uploading to YouTube before you dry off. In this day and age, when walking on the street can inadvertently turn you into an overnight celebrity, everything — did we say “everything”? — is on the record and privacy has basically gone out the window.

Unfortunately, unlike the of-the-moment celebrity or sports star, that white hot spotlight doesn’t translate into a lucrative endorsement deal or the ability to borrow that $1 million pair of Harry Winston earrings for your company’s annual awards ceremony.

 

So remember, your digital profile is your lasting legacy.  Pay attention to your posts, your posse and your privacy settings to stay on the right track.  Giddyup – and good luck!

What other things worry you about the impact of the digital realm?  Share with us here, on Facebook or on Twitter.