The world of international trade and foreign direct investment is an exciting and interesting career. It’s one that is filled with global travel, dealing with international contracts and clients while embracing multiple languages and cultures.
In recognition of Women in Trade Month, I’d like to encourage others to share my passion and consider becoming a mentor to promote the career advancement of women in trade. Being a mentor is a rewarding endeavour, one that can include resume development, social media skills, personal branding, job interview preparation, life experience, support through positive feedback and, ultimately, providing connections to your network.
Here are 6 tips to become an effective mentor for women entrepreneurs and women in trade:
Communicate your past and present experiences
Be honest with your mentee about what you’ve learned on your international path to success by disclosing some personal life examples. Share how you handled various situations in the workplace and how you came out stronger and wiser after each trial and error. If she runs into similar challenges down the road, who knows how your story might resonate with her, providing the strength she needs to get through a hard time.
Share your network
Be prepared to make solid connections from your inner circle. Think of the people in your network related to trade, export and investment activity, then match the candidate with the company. Encourage the mentee to take active steps towards building and maintaining her own list of contacts. It is never too early to start networking.
Offer to become a reference
This includes writing a letter of recommendation she can include with her resume or adding an endorsement to her LinkedIn profile. Professional references play an important role in the hiring process and it may tip the scale in her favour to land the job.
Encourage continual learning
Encourage your mentee to take her education to a higher level. For example, she could build her industry knowledge by obtaining a trade designation, or by attending local export events, seminars and trade workshops. Remind her it is wise to stay current on relevant industry news and global trade agreements. These activities will help her develop a career that reflects her potential and goals while improving her overall confidence.
Encourage risk taking
Mentoring has proven to help deal with career barriers, so it is important to encourage women to take career risks and close the confidence gap. This may include taking jobs with more responsibility, staff and pay. There are multiple opportunities in the world of trade and investment, including high level leadership roles in which women excel.
Think of mentoring as a long-term commitment
Whether they are in a job they love and just need a champion to help them move up the ladder or they are seeking a new career in this industry; make a commitment towards assisting your mentees with on-going support.
For young professionals, navigating the arena of trade, export and foreign direct investment without an experienced mentor can be extremely challenging. You will find when you’ve helped a young person navigate their way through life, the payoff is immense and immeasurable to both sides.