One misconception about mentoring is that, when someone experienced takes on a mentee, the relationship benefits only the latter. This couldn't be further from the truth.
Often, becoming a trusted adviser results in a ripple effect. In other words, through helping others, advisers can unlock different opportunities for their own careers. By exercising their "zones of genius," they can contribute to outside projects of interest, establish or reinforce connections, and ultimately end up happier in their careers.
But don't just take it from me. A 2013 study found that people who serve as mentors have greater job satisfaction and higher commitment to their employers.
Still not convinced? Here are four ways advisers experience the ripple effect:
1. Leadership experience: Becoming a mentor means greater responsibility. While this can add a little more work to your to-do list, it can also add leadership experience to your rsum. This allows potential employers to see how you have stepped up to the plate.
For example, according to Jonathan Aspatore, CEO of ExecRank (a firm that connects companies to advisers), a few months after an ExecRank member added his first advisory board title to his experience bank on LinkedIn, he was messaged for a general board search as a direct result of this past experience. Without the added advisory position, it's possible that he wouldn't have been considered for the opportunity at all.
2. Trusted relationships: Advising is a golden opportunity to strengthen your network. As a result of working as a strategic consultant and trusted adviser with a variety of startups in Silicon Valley, I've been introduced to contacts across the whole ecosystem: entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and their client bases and management teams.
Forging these relationships has opened the door to new opportunities down the line and has given me the chance to be considered as an adviser, consultant, board member, or even a principal in future endeavors.
3. More revenue: Depending on the situation, mentoring can be lucrative, too. In my experience, working with funded, early-stage startups as a strategic consultant or adviser has been a key element in my business model. When I work on a retainer basis with these types of companies, our arrangement often includes equity participation, and I'll benefit in the upside if they have a good exit as a result of my contributions.
Becoming a mentor may also help you get promoted. Sun Microsystems did a five-year study on the career progression of more than 1,000 workers and found that mentors were likelier to be promoted over other employees by a factor of six. What's more, both were 20 percent likelier to receive raises.
4. Increased visibility: When you become more active in your area of expertise, others are bound to take notice. And this greater sense of visibility can pay off with new advising opportunities. At the very least, your boss will see that you're willing to help the next generation learn the business, which will make you a more valuable employee.
For me, the relationships I've built with entrepreneurs over the years have afforded me opportunities for further engagement in their careers along the way. Some have reached out to me as a trusted adviser to help them navigate their "second act" of entrepreneurship. These consultations have often brought me into conversations with new people from various fields--people who might not have gotten to know me or my expertise otherwise.
You might think you're too busy to be a mentor, but becoming an adviser isn't just about helping less experienced entrepreneurs. When you take the extra step and become an adviser, the ripple effect can take hold and bring new career opportunities for you in parallel.