How to get mentoring right | Amy Van Dorp

“Find a mentor.” It feels like this advice is everywhere.

The studies from McKinsey and LeanIn.org measure the amount of mentoring that women receive and the quality of mentoring they need to be successful. The Center for Creative Leadership cites mentoring as one way to build your teams’ competencies. Nearly every leadership program cites finding a good mentor as a key to success.

How do you find a mentor? That’s a question that WithIt, the women’s leadership development network for the home furnishings industry, has been asking and solving for 25 years. The founders strongly believed that by building a network of meaningful connections, mentoring relationships would occur naturally.

However, finding a mentor is not the same as hiring a coach. You don’t simply ask a random person to be your mentor. It’s a relationship built on trust and transparency.

In June 2023, the WithIt board of directors decided to research how we could create more opportunities for successful mentor relationships. Right now, there is always ample opportunity at events to network and make lasting connections. We have hosted speed dating for mentors during our annual conference and annually host more than 140 students for a student mentoring day. That didn’t seem enough, though.

A committee was formed to research creating a formal mentor pairing program in WithIt. We studied white papers from many different industries and sources to glean what features successful programs needed to have. We wanted to leverage WithIt’s greatest strength — a diverse network of women ranging from CEO and entrepreneurs to students — to create more relationships that help build skills in the workforce now and the employees of the future.

This month WithIt unveils a formal mentoring program where members can apply to be paired with a mentor for a 6-month commitment. We have a formal application for mentors and mentees so that we can create relationships that are set up for success. We are creating virtual education and toolkits so that women from all parts of the industry can learn to be successful mentors and mentees.

WithIt is dedicated to creating a supportive and inclusive community where mentors and mentees can connect, inspire and learn from each other. By facilitating these valuable relationships and providing guidance, we strive to nurture talent, boost self-confidence and enhance leadership skills, ultimately helping mentees reach their full potential.

Learn more about this valuable program at withit.org.

Amy Van Dorp is the director of the WithIt organization.

Have an opinion you want to share? Please contact Anne Flynn Wear at awear@furnituretoday.com.

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