If you are open to learning, there is something you can learn from every person you meet. You may not learn what you expected, but that doesn’t mean what you have learned isn’t valuable.
Many people spend a lot of time trying to learn from experts. Experts have many insights that can be valuable for a young leader or emerging entrepreneur. However, one often overlooked resource may be your peers.
Peers, people who are in a similar stage of professional or organizational development, can share useful knowledge and information as well. In fact, since peers have similar experiences, peers can become mentors to one another, sharing lessons and insights among a group. The value of shared knowledge and experience is exponentially greater than what you can learn alone.
What is a peer mentor?
A peer mentor is someone who is in a similar stage of their career or their life as you, but who has different experiences from which you can learn. Unlike a mentor who is many years older, a peer mentor is likely to have had similar experiences with a similar context for providing advice. A peer mentor can be a useful sounding board, someone who can give you feedback on your ideas, or share their own perspective.
Identifying a peer mentor
Some companies and organizations will match new employees with colleagues, giving new employees someone who can answer questions and provide guidance on how the organization works. Other times, you can identify a peer mentor among your colleagues independently: someone with whom you work well, who can share professional insights, and who is excited to learn from and with you as well.
How to be a great peer mentor
There are many ways to be a great mentor; Inc. magazine shares these recommendations on how to be a good mentor:
- Be ready to share what you know.
- Be prepared with insights to share.
- Be approachable and available, and listen.
- Be honest, but not rude.
- Be ready to learn about the other person’s interests.
- Be objective and fair.
- Be compassionate and genuine.
Good advice can be found in many quarters. Advice can come from your boss, a senior colleague, or an expert in your professional field. Advice can also come from your peers, people who have similar but different experiences from you.
Above all, be ready to learn, from wherever the lessons come.