Working with a mentor can be a powerful way to help you navigate the promo industry and keep you on track toward your professional goals. There’s more than one kind of mentor, though. A mentor isn’t just someone who takes you under their wing and gives you advice, says Dr. Bunny McFadden, an award-winning freelancer. A mentor comes in all sorts of varieties and can help you at all stages of your career.

In this issue of PromoPro Daily, we share Dr. McFadden’s thoughts on seven types of mentors, along with how you can choose the best one for where you are now. Read on for seven types of mentors you should consider.

1. Traditional mentor. This is someone who has worked in the promo industry for several years. Working with a traditional mentor is the tried-and-true choice, Dr. McFadden says, because the mentor has usually navigated the same path you’re on now.

2. Affinity-based mentor. These types of mentorships usually stem from an underrepresented identity, whether it’s ethnicity, religion or any number of other characteristics. Dr. McFadden says an affinity-based mentor can remind you that you’re not alone, and it can also lead to organizational or even industry-wide changes in policy or perception.

3. Group mentor. These are typically cohorts, and they’re beneficial because they let you learn not only from a seasoned professional but also from your fellow mentees. A group mentorship is a lot like a book club, Dr. McFadden says, in that there’s a shared sense of responsibility, a common interest that keeps things focused, and a lot of room for individuality.

4. Peer mentor. Don’t discount the benefits that can come from learning from someone who is roughly the same seniority level as you. Seeing a peer’s strategy, advocating together for different resources and being able to transfer projects or funnel clients to alternatives during your busy season are all added bonuses to this relationship, Dr. McFadden says.

5. Cross-functional mentor. This is someone in a different department who you might work with on larger projects that involve several stakeholders. A cross-functional peer isn’t your boss and not quite a peer, but they know enough about your role and team that they can provide a helpful frame of reference.

6. Reverse mentor. According to Dr. McFadden, a reverse mentorship is when an executive, middle manager or anyone with some seniority purposely seeks out the perspective of a newbie or someone without as much power and responsibility in an organization. You can look to a reverse mentor to get feedback on how a new system or process is working out from the folks who actually use it every day.

7. Parasocial mentor. This kind of mentor can provide useful and realistic insight from a distance. A parasocial mentor might be a public speaker or expert. You might come across them on YouTube or LinkedIn and be able to learn from their experiences.

How To Decide What Mentor You Need

Think about your career stage. Have you worked in the promo industry for years or are you just starting out? Also, consider how much time you can or want to invest. Are you looking for weekly get-togethers or just casual conversations over coffee when you want to chat about something? Lastly, Dr. McFadden says it’s important to get clear about what you need most right now.

Whether it’s someone to motivate you, commiserate with or help you take the next step in your career, when you know what you need, you’ll gain clarity on what type of mentor could benefit you most.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Dr. Bunny McFadden is an award-winning freelancer and doctor of education. She contributes to The Muse among other sites.