Peer to peer mentoring is a surefire way to build up your professional skillset and strengthen your support network.
Peer to peer mentoring is a process where people with similar career experience use their unique skillsets to help one another.
Basically, you share your strengths with a peer and they share their strengths with you.
In peer to peer mentoring, people usually have a shared work experience and relate well due to similarities in career trajectories and age.
But despite these similarities they often have different skillsets and it’s this unique perspective that is really valuable.
Sometimes we engage in peer to peer mentoring without even realising it, like asking a colleague for advice or collaborating on a project. But sometimes it can be useful to make the exchange more official.
Think of a HR professional and media perSuson who both work for a large consulting firm. Both workers are three years into their career and neither is more senior than the other.
They agree to support one another through peer to peer mentoring.
The HR professional coaches her media mate through pay negotiation, who then repays the favour by sharing public speaking advice with the HR professional before her upcoming speaking gig.
While this HR professional and media person would never have been paired together in traditional mentoring, they have both benefitted from the exchange.
Peer to peer mentoring allows you to build a strong connection with a peer while developing skills and broadening your professional perspective.
But what about traditional mentoring?
In my opinion, peer to peer mentoring isn’t any better than traditional mentoring. It’s different.
It’s a valuable alternative to the more traditional model, especially for younger professionals who may find it difficult to find a senior mentor.
Traditional mentoring offers you a great opportunity to learn from experienced, senior professionals.
A traditional mentor can offer you lessons and insight that might otherwise take years to learn on your own.
And being new to the workforce, your fresh perspective can breathe life into their established norms and modes of thinking.
However this traditional and sometimes rigid mentoring model can often be daunting to navigate.
I mean, how the heck do you find a mentor in the first place?
What are we supposed to do? Just knock on an Executive’s door and politely ask to be mentored?
Surprisingly sometimes the answer is yes. Especially because some Executives actively seek out opportunities to mentor.
But in most cases, the answer is no. Which means finding a mentor gets a little more difficult.
(Keep in mind! Larger organisations will often offer mentorship programs for you to opt into. If you’re unsure, ask your HR department. But many small or medium sized businesses don’t offer these programs and in that case peer to peer mentoring might be worth a shot!)
How to find a mentor amongst your peers
- Identify young professionals in your network with skills you’d like to learn about
- Figure out which of your own skills they might be interested in
- Arrange for a coffee or chat and ask if they’d be keen to share their experience with you (you could even show them this blog post if you’d like a launching off place)
- Follow up your ask with an offer to share some of your skills with them (keep an open mind, they may be interested in parts of your skillset you never expected)
Most of all, don’t be afraid of the approach. I’ve found most people are happy to share what they do, especially when they work in a different field or team to you.
So. If you’d like a mentorship experience and aren’t quite ready for the traditional kind, why not give peer to peer mentoring a go?
Conversely, even if you HAVE had, or DO have, a more traditional mentor, peer to peer mentoring can still be a great way to add extra skills into your tool belt and connect with likeminded people.
What’s your experience with mentoring? Do you want a mentor? Do you have one? And if so, how did you connect?
Until next time,
PS. Want more work-related topics? How about Prioritisation: how to work smarter, not harder or Workplace conflict: how triangulation can help not hinder?