Three people with their back to the camera look at a laptop screen, one (sophie) is mentoring them

Giving Back: Become a Digital Mentor for Charities & Businesses

Working in digital marketing can sometimes feel like you’re just grinding away to make businesses money and leave you feeling a little soulless sometimes. Giving your time and expertise to others can be an excellent way to give back to the community and help relieve a bit of the grinding mill of capitalism that we’re generally selling our time for.

It can be a very daunting prospect to apply and become a mentor but I found that mentoring really helped boost my confidence – plus, explaining concepts to other people that are starting off with zero information is a massively useful skill to master and you get a feel-good buzz for doing something charitable.

Benefits of being a mentor

Networking: Meeting the other mentors is a great networking experience, I’ve met so many interesting people working in all different areas in the digital marketing industry. It’s been great learning about different areas of digital that I never even knew existed, as well as making new connections – who knows what cool projects and ideas might come from being in the same room as other experts!

Confidence: Talking someone through a digital marketing plan, or giving them tips and advice on how to get the most out of a digital platform can give you confidence that you do actually know what you’re talking about. Sometimes your brain can trick you into thinking you are not an expert and are just muddling through your career without really knowing what you’re talking about.

I found it really confidence-boosting to get feedback from others that my advice was useful and it confirmed to myself that YES – I am actually skilled and knowledgeable in my career subject.

Improving Communication Skills: Being able to explain marketing concepts in simple terms so that people with zero prior knowledge can understand them is a super useful skill to have – in SEO, being able to explain confusing and complex terminology and ideas is essential to get buy in from a client or company. Mentoring will give you many opportunities to hone your skills in giving clear and understandable instructions which is a soft skill that can really supercharge your career.

Feel-good factor: Giving your time to a business free of charge is really rewarding. You could be helping a small business be that little bit more effective on social and get a few more sales online or you could be helping a charity reach new people with their services.

Sometimes it can be really hard to feel like your making a positive impact in the world, but being able to use the knowledge from your career to give back something to others can be a small thing you can offer your community.

I’d like to do it…. BUT

You might read those benefits and be tempted, but sometimes that little voice starts piping up and gives you a bunch of reasons why you shouldn’t become a mentor. To counteract this, here are some of the main thought-blockers, along with the reason why you should ignore your inner critic and just do the damn thing.

BUT… I’m not experienced enough to become a mentor

You DO NOT need to be super experienced to be able to give back. I personally started mentoring after only 9 months of working in digital marketing – the main reason I first signed up to be a mentor for (a Sheffield-based mentoring program) was a tweet I saw asking for more female mentors, not because I knew “enough”.

Remember: you know more than you think you know

Even if you feel you’ve only got a small amount of experience, someone you’re mentoring is likely starting from absolutely zero knowledge – plus, explaining how something works to someone else can really help cement the information in your own mind.

BUT… What if I get paired with someone who I can’t help?

When you apply to be a mentor, you can specify in your biography exactly what topics you are comfortable giving advice on, and what level your digital marketing or SEO knowledge is at, which means you will only get paired with a mentee who will be able to learn from you. I’ve personally never had a mentee match that I couldn’t help or felt out of my depth with.

Occasionally in a mentoring session, you might find that the question that they initially asked for help with isn’t actually what they need to focus on. In cases like this (which has only happened once for me) you can just let them know what area of digital would be better for them to look into and they can always re-submit a new question now that you’ve helped them understand what they really need. You’ve still helped!

You’ve convinced me – how do I find mentoring opportunities?

There are many social enterprises and digital mentoring schemes available that do all the hard work of pairing you with a mentee:

Digital Candle

Where: Online

This group pairs digital experts with charities where you can give 1 hour of your time. Charities can get advice on any aspect of digital or digital marketing, from digital strategy to Google Ads and from remote service delivery to social media.

Digital Boost

Where: Online

Digital Boost are a “community of volunteer experts ready to help start-ups, small businesses, and charities.” You can give someone a one-hour session to help them with an aspect of digital they’re struggling with.

This scheme is done online through video calls, and they have a slick mentor request and booking system. I’ve personally used this service the most and really like how easy it is to set- up sessions.

Legup Social

Where: In Person

Legup Social is an enterprise started by research company Paper – it is a “collaborative project from the digital community to help small businesses, charities and social enterprises with digital, for free.”

They run in-person mentoring events in Sheffield and Manchester currently – this is where I started out mentoring!

Sheffield Digital

Where: In-Person (Sheffield)

The Sheffield Digital Mentoring Scheme is run in collaboration with the Sheffield Women in Tech to help people starting out in a career in digital by giving guidance and offer insights into progression and career paths in the digital industry.

University Alumni Mentor Schemes

There are also many university Alumni mentoring schemes available – so if you went to university have a look if this is something you can get involved with, and help current students just starting out in a new career.

Know of any other mentorship schemes? Share in the comments and I’ll add them in!

Are there any other roadblocks in the way of you signing up to become a mentor? Have you been a mentee somewhere and really benefited from it? I’d love to hear your stories!

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