August 29, 2014 Articles

A Two-Way Street: Reciprocal Mentoring in Business Development

By Francine Friedman Griesing and Ashley Kenney Shea

To achieve professional independence and attain partnership status, lawyers need their own books of business in today’s legal environment. Doing so is not easy in a profession still dominated by men who are more likely to inherit client relationships and attendant business generation credit from colleagues. The next generation of female lawyers has much to gain from seasoned attorneys who can connect them with others and guide them in their business development efforts. Mentorship within and beyond your firm can, therefore, be a key component of building a successful professional plan.

Senior lawyers willing to share experiences and connections with junior lawyers are invaluable, but that is only one side of the mentoring relationship. Viewing mentoring in a one-sided fashion overlooks half the value proposition of the relationship. Top companies like General Electric and Ernst & Young have embraced what has been termed “reciprocal mentoring” or “reverse mentoring” with profound results, particularly in areas that are key to business development. For example, millennials have a wealth of expertise in utilizing social media for marketing purposes, and women in particular can offer valuable insight into relationship building in an increasingly diverse workforce. Not surprisingly, companies that have encouraged two-way mentoring have reported reinvigorated leaders and markedly more confident junior professionals.

 

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