By Kristin McVeigh, Co-Director IABC/Calgary, Career Services (Mentorship)
Mentorship relationships typically include chats over coffee, attending professional development and networking events and even the occasional meal. In the IABC/Calgary Mentorship Program, we are always looking for unique ways to stay connected. This year has been no different, with the added task of building connection in a virtual setting.
Here are how some of our program participants have been using technology and their own creativity to build their relationship in a time when face-to-face meetings haven’t been possible!
Living in different cities
One thing that the pandemic has taught us through the increased use of virtual meetings is that geographic boundaries are less of a barrier than we previously thought. When Emily was considering a move across the country, she saw the IABC/Calgary Mentorship Program as an opportunity to learn more about the communications scene of a different city.
“Moving across the country presented itself with the very daunting task of expanding my network to a new city. One would initially think that I would face barriers being so far away; however, with the online tools available and the IABC Mentorship program, I was faced with more opportunities to make meaningful connections. Having a point of contact who can help provide insight into the business landscape was extremely beneficial.”
– Emily Dibdin, IABC/Calgary Mentee
“Despite living in different time zones, the geographic distance did not impact our ability to have productive conversations through video calls. As a mentor, one of the benefits of this long-distance relationship was that it provided me with a unique opportunity to provide insights into Calgary’s communications landscape to someone who was considering moving to our city to start her career.”
– Eric Michalko, SCMP, IABC/Calgary Mentor
Using a mini book club for inspiration
An important aspect in a mentorship relationship is discussing new ideas. We often suggest that could be through attending an IABC/Calgary professional development event. Michelle and Rachel have taken that to a new level this year by reading and discussing the book Made to Stick by Chip Heath & Dan Heath.
“It’s been a fantastic option to be able to connect virtually for our IABC/Calgary mentorship chats this year. Originally, we took a mini book club approach as a bit of an icebreaker to get the conversations going and to add another layer to our professional development in storytelling and communications. And while the book is an excellent read, we quickly discovered that Rachel and I often had plenty of mentorship topics and ideas to bounce in our monthly zoom calls. Instead of an icebreaker, the book club element has turned into a fun way to learn together (virtually) and cap-off our conversations with an a-ha moment or takeaway to apply to our work.”
– Michelle MacPherson, IABC/Calgary Mentor
“The chats I have had with Michelle have brought a much-needed fresh perspective to some of the professional challenges I’m working through and adding the book club is just the icing on the cake. For example, one topic that Michelle and I have discussed is personal branding – something that is important for long-term career growth but is so easy to procrastinate on. With Michelle’s encouragement, I’ve begun writing a professional blog, and one of the topics from the book really resonated with me and inspired a recent blog post. ”
– Rachel Feddema, IABC/Calgary Mentee
Taking on the role of being both a mentor and a mentee
Many mentors will tell you they find value in the program from giving back but they also find that they can learn a lot. Emily has found that acting as both a mentor and a mentee gives her fresh perspectives in both relationships.
“Being both a mentor and mentee at the same time has been a unique experience during the COVID-19 pandemic. All of our meetings have been online, but with both relationships, we have been able to have real, in-depth conversations about the challenges we have and do face under the circumstances. I have a meeting with my mentor one week, and a meeting with my mentee the week after, which has been great for keeping me accountable to both relationships. My mentor, and previous mentors, have taught me the importance of focusing on a particular goal or issue at a time, which has proven beneficial to the conversation with my IABC mentee and keeps our ongoing conversation focused from meeting to meeting.”
– Emily Smith, Mentor and Mentee
To find out more about the IABC/Calgary Mentorship Program, visit us online at https://iabccalgary.com/learn/mentorship-program/