When I graduated from college in 2006, I wasn't sure of the direction I wanted to go in my career.
Considering the technological landscape at the time, I came up with the idea of training baby boomers and the elderly about how to use technology, from computers to digital cameras and smartphones. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get my business off the ground, but the concept was on the right track for my future career.
Reverse mentorship plays a big role in the ways that PR firms are growing and developing today.
It is always nice for an intern or a junior-level staffer to have a senior executive to look up to and who is willing to take young staffers under his or her wing. That is something that won't change anytime soon. However, the value of learning from the "newbies," especially in this time of growth and change sparked by digital media, should not be ignored or overlooked.
At M Booth & Associates, the vice presidents each have a social media mentor to help keep them up-to-date on the latest trends, technology, and tools.
Fully understanding how to utilize all aspects of the tools after a half-hour mentoring session each week is not feasible or even necessary, but it is important that staffers on all levels have at least a basic understanding of the newest applications. This can help executives who have been in the industry for a decade or more understand the changing landscape and learn how they can speak to clients in a thoughtful and strategic way.
As Erica Swallow wrote in a recent Mashable article (which originally appeared on American Express Open Forum, an M Booth client), reverse mentoring is a two-way conversation that allows “digitally savvy newcomers … the opportunity to impart their tips and tricks for mastering the Internet, and senior business leaders [to] act as role models and career coaches for budding professionals.”
Even if you think you know it all, let your entry-level employees be reverse mentors to you because you will be surprised and enlightened. It will also give you the chance to take that “young gun” under your wing, so he or she can learn about other aspects of the industry from a seasoned vet.
Rob Longert is a digital media strategist at M Booth & Associates.