The Importance of Mentorship: Lessons Learned from Senior Leaders at LinkedIn on InDay

March 26, 2014

Editor’s Note: Once a month, we give a day back to employees to think creatively, work on innovative projects, and invest in their careers. We call this InDay. On March InDay, the theme was Mentor[In]. Here’s what our San Francisco office did to encourage mentorship.

Having an experienced mentor can be life changing and extremely valuable to your career. That’s why the LinkedIn San Francisco office hosted our annual “Mentor[In]” session with ten senior leaders to learn from their successes and failures. From the importance of having a mentor to managing a mentoring relationship, these were some of the most valuable takeaways from the day:

  1. You should have a mentor. Having a mentor can help you figure out your career path and introduce you to others who you may not have a relationship with yet. She can share her personal career experiences and help you think through your own. She can teach you how managers think so that you can contribute to your own team as a leader. Most importantly, your mentor can help you realize your strengths and weaknesses, and empower you to capitalize on your strengths.

  1. Leverage your manager. Typically, you are limited to your first degree connections when thinking of mentors. Your manager is more senior than you so she likely has relationships you may not have. Don’t hesitate to ask your manager to facilitate an introduction if she knows someone who’d be a good mentor for you.

  1. Come with goals in mind. With each mentorship discussion, it is important to have an agenda and a goal in mind. Do you want to go from an individual contributor to a manager? Make sure your objective is clear. While a mentor can help you figure out your strengths and weaknesses, it is important that you know what you want in your career. By having a goal, your mentor can help advise you on how to get there.

  1. Help them help you. While a mentor can provide a ton of value to you, make sure that you provide value to her as well. For example, if you are in Sales and want to have a mentor in Product Management because you want to potentially pursue a career in Product Management, offer to connect her to clients so she can get direct feedback that she normally could not have. Send her articles that you know she’ll be interested in. Even though she may be more senior than you, she can still learn from you so that it is a win-win situation.

One of the key pillars of LinkedIn’s culture is Transformation of self, company and world. In just an hour with these senior leaders, we learned so much about how mentors have helped them transform their careers and how their experiences could apply to our own. I had the privilege of hosting Mike Derezin, the VP of one of our fastest growing businesses (Sales Solutions), who provided a lot of the advice above. Now go out there, find a mentor, and transform your career!