Two years ago, I committed to making mentorship a priority in my life—and I jumped in with both feet. I pledged to mentor others, to find a mentor of my own and, wherever possible, to support and encourage mentorship across my professional network.
Reflecting back on that journey, I recall embracing mentorship with some very big hopes and dreams. I hoped I could make a meaningful impact by advising like-minded women in their careers and lives. And I dreamed of becoming a part of a dynamic movement where colleagues supported each other in positive, powerful ways.
Ultimately, I wanted to see more women rising to leadership positions in technology companies. In truth, my actual experiences were a mixed bag.
Becoming a mentor
I registered with Everwise, a company that connects women in similar fields for mentorship relationships. I was immediately matched to an amazing and thoughtful technology marketer whose career path and aspirations are similar to mine. We quickly built a natural rapport, and over the next 18 months, I actively encouraged and supported her as she transitioned to a new role in a different company.
As is the case with so many of these relationships, I can confirm that the mentor has learned as much from the mentee as she has learned from me.
Creating mentorships within my network
In my leadership role at April Six, I hosted an exclusive panel discussion centered around the topic of mentorship and the real impact of these relationship in women’s careers. A group of inspiring panelists from leading technology companies came and shared their advice and genuine, personal stories. More impressively, each of the panelists offered to mentor anyone attending the event.
Of course, I encouraged the April Six team-members present at the event to take advantage of this generous offer. I imagined them learning and growing with their mentors’ support and guidance. What I did not expect was two of my most promising April Sixers leaving the agency to work for their mentor—one of the panelists at our event. (Deep breath, Jill.) While I was proud to see opportunities open-up for two women I know and admire, I was disheartened to lose such valuable talent. It was a bittersweet outcome and an unforeseen result of my commitment to advocating for mentorship within my network.
Finding a mentor
I have been fortunate to have many strong, albeit “informal,” mentors in my life (shout outs to Vasu Jakkal, Shanta Kohli, Roland Deal, Christine Jennings, Bob Wright) but finding an “official” mentor turned out to be more challenging than I expected. I began the process by defining my “mentor criteria.” I knew I wanted to connect with a career-oriented mentor who was serving in a senior-level role within her organization. With that criteria in mind, I identified three categories for my target mentors: CMOs at technology companies, agency leaders, and powerful thought-leaders/speakers in technology.
I created a list of just over 50 prospects and confidently set-off on LinkedIn to make connections and find my first mentor. I wrote two to three personal emails per day to these successful women, (re)introducing myself and specifically highlighting why I believed each would be a great mentor, then outlining my request and expectations.
By day 5—and 11 requests in—I was mildly surprised; there was no response. Undeterred, I kept at it.
Sadly, the trend continued. I began to wonder, “Am I doing something wrong?” By this point, I had sent 22 requests…and still no response.
Then…finally…as I was close to giving up…I received a positive response from one of the best mentors I could have asked for: Nancy Hill. It wasn’t long before Nancy and I began a mentorship relationship that continues to this day. I am so thankful that she remains a constant source of inspiration, practical guidance, and seasoned counsel. Quite simply, I couldn’t have asked for a better mentor.
Still, the process of getting there was harder than I expected. And this got me thinking….
I came to the conclusion that there had to be a better way for women in my beloved industry—marketing, and specifically in the technology sector—to connect with other women for networking, support, and mentorship opportunities. Well, something was definitely in the air, because Shari Johnston, Crissy Saunders and the founders of Women in Revenue were thinking the same thing.
Thanks to Frannie Danzinger, I was introduced to this incredible group of women and, today, I’m thrilled to be working with them to build this powerful community.
Together, we are building a mentorship platform to support the women in our community. Our mission, “To empower current and future women leaders in technology sales and marketing roles with education, support, and networking opportunities,” is aligned perfectly with my personal aspiration. It should come as no surprise that it’s taken a collective of smart, dedicated women to help bring my personal mentorship commitment to the next level.
To learn more about Women in Revenue and our Mentorship program, visit www.womeninrevenue.org and sign up to be a mentor or find a mentor.
And the journey continues…