Being a mentor

One of the inspirations for Good Eggs was the work of The Community Comms Collective based in NZ. As they are in the midst of celebrating Volunteer week we wanted to showcase what our Good Eggs founder Kieran did with the collective. This is a post about what he gained from the experience as well as some key pointers about being a mentor.


My motivation to get involved with the collective stemmed from the guidance I had been given. I had a mentor from SenateSHJ guiding me through a strategic stakeholder engagement post. The mentoring I received was invaluable and so in the spirit of passing it forward I wanted to offer up my assistance to someone.

Gail and Sue placed me with Volunteering NZ, I was mentoring Julaine a Communications Assistant intern who was tasked with setting up and running a celebration of Pro Bono week, the global Pro Bono movement started through the Taproot foundation.

My remit included offering guidance and advice on:

  • Key messages and risk management
  • Stakeholder management
  • Implementing a campaign and developing case studies
  • Communication planning including the importance of internal communications
  • Writing media releases and scripting Q&A’s
  • Dealing with the media
  • How to utilise social media
  • Evaluating success

In addition throughout the six weeks I was able to offer additional opportunities; experiencing a media lock up, role playing scenario based ‘cold’ calling phone calls and network presentations.

Ultimately Julaine built very strong foundations for the following year. She was a pleasure to work alongside and her confidence grew throughout the project.

The three overarching things I gained from this:

  • Renewed creativity, motivation and vision that carried over into my personal and professional life. I found it a great way to take a step back from the day job and solve work matters by seeing them in a new light; through the lens of this mentoring project.
  • A boast of self-confidence and increase self-esteem; it was great to learn about myself through the process; learning about which skills I could further develop and which aspects I thrived on and which I would consider for my own personal development.
  • Through this I was able to practice others skills that are not always utilised or required for my day job. Whilst making a positive impact I was able to connect to new networks and communities. This was also an opportunity to gain an insight into which directions my career could head in the future.

A few pointers I learnt about being a mentor:

  • Listen, listen and listen some more – spend the majority of time active listening and clarifying – it is often what was implied than said outright that needed the most attention, so listen and clarify to help get to the root concerns or problems the mentee is facing
  • Be patient and empathetic to help offer constructive criticism without starting an argument. I sometime ban the word No in meetings; ‘Yes and…’ sessions help maintain a positive forward moving environment.
  • Never underestimate how much learning you can do alongside this process as well. Learn from mentee and be open minded in your approach
  • Be considerate, turn off phones find a place to meet without distractions or opportunities to be interrupted and invest in getting to know the person
  • Take time to build up a trusted environment where the mentee is willing to share information in confidence
  • Don’t be afraid to admit personal mistakes/experience to help illustrate examples and to help them avoid similar mishaps
  • Set realistic expectations and get the mentee to set a brief about what they require then set out an agenda on what they require from you before each meeting
  • Note or get a few bullet points/review at the end of each session so you can refer and are able to easily recap before the next session so enable a productive session
  • Understand any resource limitations for the organisation you volunteer for and offer up opportunities outside of the assignment; be willing and open to offer up your networks, contacts and communication tools were appropriate
  • Set out how each of you prefers to be contacted. If communicating over email – give realistic reply times you should both meet and decide whether using your personal or work email is most appropriate
  • Don’t be afraid to shout about this through various channels and encourage others to get involved. Share what you are doing with your employer, projects are conducted in your own time but the value add to your employer is something to explore with them
  • Take the opportunity to network and speak with others doing similar projects
  • You will get out as much if not more than what you put in so put in as much passion and energy as you can
  • Don’t be afraid to seek out other peoples help and guidance

I greatly admire the work that Volunteering NZ undertakes and was very grateful to them for this opportunity.

Between my experience with them and the collective they inspired the desire to set up Good Eggs here in Sydney so thank you once again to Gail and Sue, it is inspiring to watch the collective grow.

If you are a community organisation in NZ that requires a communications boost get in touch with Gail and Sue.

If you are reading this and even remotely thinking about volunteering your time with the Community Comms Collective in NZ or us here in Sydney then don’t think too long or hard just get involved and offer up your expertise.

At the moment we have a great mentoring opportunity to help an overwhelmed communications professional with a charity that deals with helps disadvantaged & marginalised young people

So thank you to Gail and Sue, to Vanisa and Julaine and to Emily Watt my mentor at SenateSHJ.

Get involved In NZ here

Get in touch with us here in Sydney

About you as a comms professional

About you as a charity or not-for-profit

With a great range of opportunities tailored to your available times and expertise we can offer assistance to charities and not-for-profits who need that boast or support.

Further reading; This is a good article in Forbes about how to become a great mentor

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