One of the most gratifying benefits the profession of network marketing offers is the joy and fulfillment experienced from positively impacting the lives of others. Once a person has reached a certain level of success, they earn the privilege of imparting wisdom to advance the development of the community. This is accomplished through group mentorship using vehicles such as professional publications, blogs, and stage presentations, or more specific vehicles within individual networks. Individual mentorship, which can be the most rewarding, is generally understood as taking the leadership model to a more intimate level and imparting the knowledge you have accumulated one on one.
When Arthur Ashe said the famous words, “From what we get, we can make a living; what we give, however, makes a life,” he summarized the very essence of what mentorship is all about. Giving of ourselves, taking time to add value, making sacrifices to empower others—this is what sets our profession apart as truly life-changing and should be clearly understood and embraced. Our business model allows us to reach beyond the most familiar individual mentor relationships such as family members, teachers, and coaches, and reach into a business organization to become a trusted advisor to people who want more than to maintain the status quo.
Having been fortunate enough to watch a number of people I believe to be the most exemplary of leaders over the years, I’ve seen a number of mentoring systems in action with varying results. In this article I will share the components I observed that produced the most positive results. It all begins with establishing a format that works best for you and your team—one that you know you’ll be able to unfailingly deliver. Before launching it, critique it carefully, run it by a trusted advisor, and understand it will be a work in progress. Take notes along the way, and consider it a part of business development that often gives back as much as is received.
In order to be successful, mentorship requires four qualities:
To begin a viable program within your team, the leadership they experience from you on a regular basis will generate interest in them becoming the leaders of tomorrow. The talent in the pipeline needs to be inspired by you as the mentor to create the desire to change behaviors and exercise the discipline necessary to be successful. The most effective mentors are those whose overall leadership generates admiration and therefore a coachable environment.
One common theme in the methods that produce the most fruit is they have a concise set of guidelines that establish the ground rules and defined deliverables for the program. For instance, timelines - a 12-week program where the two people connect weekly for one hour; agenda - 10 minutes personal connection, 15 minutes reviewing previous week productivity, 15 minutes setting goals for upcoming week action items, 20 minute skill building; goal setting, time management, communications, presenting, leadership, the list goes on. Start on time, end on time, and remove distractions. Focus, being present, and consistency are the keys to productivity.
Identifying viable candidates from various lines of your business center to participate in the mentoring program should be a definable process to avoid favoritism and encourage performance. By encouraging nominations from the leaders in multiple areas of business you’ll identify rising stars who may be currently unrecognized. Look for leadership characteristics including personal excellence, concern for others, strong work ethics, coach-ability and a drive to succeed. They must be as committed to the mentoring relationship as you are and willing to honor the time invested in their development. To ensure this I have seen the three-strikes-you’re-out rule implemented, where if assignments are not accomplished mentees are gently asked to vacate the sessions until a time exists that is more optimal for application. Set the tone up front that this is similar to an executive coaching scenario and other candidates are on a waiting list; this will increase the level of respect for the program and its perceived value.
The primary result of a mentoring program should be duplication. Like the majority of systems in network marketing, the design itself should empower others to pass along their knowledge and competency to the team and experience sustainable success. According to ongoing distributor exit interviews, a top reason people check out of the business is “lack of support.” Successful mentorship should reduce attrition and increase career path progression because you are investing in, and supporting, personal growth and development. The benefit to the mentor will include learning along the way and deepening relationships that will last a lifetime. This is where building a sustainable legacy begins.
Remember to lead by example, identify goals, and set expectations from the onset. Then commit to learn as much from your protégés as they do from you. The benefits to you and your network will last a lifetime.
MEREDITH BERKICH has a 25-year success track record in the direct selling profession. Forthright and dedicated, equal parts strategist and enthusiastic coach, Meredith partners with corporations and top field leaders to maximize their potential.
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