Why we could all use a mentor

The dictionary defines mentor as “a wise and trusted counselor or teacher”. Perhaps, like thousands of us in the industry, at some time in your career you had a mentor yourself.

Back in the day, it wasn’t quite so official sounding. There may have been a senior counsellor in your office who’d give you pointers, or maybe your office manager was a terrific role model and guided you forward in your career.

Independent or home-based agents love what they do, but many comment to me that they can struggle to get used to working on their own. The solution may be for you to find yourself a mentor.

What or who should you look for? Firstly, you’re not looking for a coach. A coach is there to tell you what to do and then check up to see that you are doing it. A mentor, on the other hand, is successful and wise, passionate and also compassionate. Look within your organization for someone who has those qualities and who is truly committed to the future success of travel agent.

Approach them and explain that you are looking to better yourself, and that they have a business style which you admire. Would it be possible for you to keep in touch with them so you can run some ideas by them? Have a chat and a catch-up on a regular basis? You needn’t be in the same city but you should be on the same wavelength!

Once you have found your mentor, don’t forget to thank him or her on a regular basis. Send small e-mails or cards to share your successes. Show how you’ve utilized one of their suggestions and how it paid off. They’re sure to find their role in your life as rewarding as you do!

Next month we’ll talk about how and why you should become a mentor.

Lynda Sinclair, CTM, is the Vice-President/Leisure at Vision Travel Solutions, the largest Canadian-owned chain of travel agencies. With over 30 years in the Canadian retail travel industry, she says she “lives and breathes what goes on at the front line.” She can be reached at lynda.sinclair@visiontravel.ca