Communicators thrive on making connections, networking and learning from each other. When IABC Minnesota saw an opportunity for its members of all ages and experience levels to collaborate, the peer mentorship program was created. This program is more than just the traditional junior-senior mentoring relationship — instead, it recognizes that all generations have something to teach and learn, allowing both participants to mentor and be mentored. IABC Minnesota chapter members Carmen Ramson-Herzing, Tracy Ulland and Amy Paglia share how this program came to life, what the chapters gained from it and how it has helped members stay connected during the pandemic.
What inspired the Minnesota Chapter to create this program, and what does it entail?
Mentoring is a great way to share knowledge, learn from others and grow as communication professionals. Many of our members participate in IABC to build their networks and develop their skills, and this program allowed us to offer another benefit to participating in IABC. We’re helping foster new connections to help IABC achieve its mission to advance the skills of its members and the profession.
This isn’t a traditional senior-junior type of program. Rather, it’s intended to allow both participants to mentor and be mentored, recognizing that every generation has something to teach and learn. Think of it as a meaningful way of networking one on one.
We paired interested participants based on their mutual self-identified strengths and areas to work on. When mentorship pairs were introduced to each other, we identified mutual topics of interest they could leverage as starting points and encouraged pairs to use this peer mentoring partnership to focus on any communication topics of significance for them. Some mentorship pairs were very specific about their objectives for partnering, while others left it more open ended.
What kind of positive movement have you seen from this initiative?
Following the pilot program in 2019, we got together to share our experiences. Some of the learnings included:
- Embrace what you enjoy doing to be successful in your career.
- It’s always good to brainstorm and pick some else’s brain for ideas that can spark inspiration and action.
- Change management can sometimes be more effective when used as a mindset versus a rigid methodology.
- As communication leaders, most everything we work on involves some level of change. This makes us change leaders regardless of formal certifications.
- Unexpected job transitions happen to everyone.
The program was piloted in 2019 — how did the events of 2020 impact the program? Did it become even more necessary, given the need for more intentional connection?
Obviously, getting together to meet over coffee wasn’t an option, but we encouraged pairs to proceed with interacting over phone, email or video conference.
As in-person networking and learning events were no longer an option, this program allowed for focused networking and learning to continue, despite the pandemic.
What is your advice for other IABC chapters that might be interested in starting a similar program?
Promote it heavily. Despite a good amount of chapter communication about it, our survey still revealed that 28% of respondents were unaware of the program. Also, we made this a special benefit for IABC Minnesota members only — participation is free with membership.
With nearly 100 chapters around the world, IABC chapters are the heart and soul of the association. Chapters create opportunities for members to tap into local communication experts and get the insight they need to drive business success and grow their career. Get involved with a chapter by visiting a chapter or region website to learn more about local offerings.
Carmen Ramson-Herzing, Tracy Ulland and Amy Paglia