eLN Director Sam Yates explains why… “You’ve got a friend in me(ntoring)”

As an Instructional Designer at Unicorn Training, I’m in the very fortunate position of working for a dedicated eLearning design company who are passionate about self-development and creativity. If I need answers to a query, or if I’m feeling a bit of writer’s block, chances are I can find help within this team of experienced creatives, designers and writers.

However, it wasn’t always this way. Rewind several years to when I first joined a small in-house learning and development team – and with zero eLearning experience – I was tasked with developing and coordinating the eLearning facility for 800+ employees. No-one else on the team had experience in eLearning either, so it took a fair bit of stumbling around in the dark, and endless hours of Google research before I finally found a whole community of others in the same boat, sharing ideas and giving each other much needed support.

Sound familiar?
Having been a speaker at several industry events I now get inundated with questions from newcomers to the industry asking for advice and guidance on how to develop and improve as an ID. They remind me of me when I first started out, when I “fell” into my eLearning career and before I had this amazing team around me.

That’s why I’m absolutely thrilled to be a new member on the eLN Board of Directors – especially as part of the team leading the mentoring scheme. Having been out there in the land of no-support, I fully understand the sheer overwhelming nature of starting in an industry that changes so rapidly. Many freelancers and in-house teams don’t have a strong support network, and often find themselves in a role with little or no back up. I know from experience, that a little bit of guidance can go a long way.

The eLN’s mission is to inspire learning, advance knowledge and strengthen the learning technology community. Our mentoring scheme is a big part of that as we help to create support networks for all those who are out there doing it on their own, those that are learning as they go and those that are transferring their skills from other industries. I’m a firm believer in mentoring and coaching as an effective way to upskill, develop personally and professionally, and to give something back to the community.

So what can the eLN Mentoring scheme offer you?
Our mentoring scheme centres around our volunteer mentors. They give up their own time for free to provide you with the support and guidance you require. As such, we see this scheme as being more of a ‘friend in the industry’ rather than professional business coaching (which could cost you hundreds!).

We can offer you:

• An opportunity to grow your professional network – our mentors are happy to introduce you to their contacts and to help you meet like-minded professionals
• A ‘friend in the industry’ – someone you can talk to, ask for advice, share ideas with
• A suitable mentor to fit your needs – we make sure to match you with someone who has the relevant experience to help you achieve your goals
• Tips and guides on getting the most from your mentoring relationship.

Why should you get involved?
Maybe you’ve been in the industry for a long time and want to give something back. Maybe you’re new to the industry and want to share what you’ve learned elsewhere… Learning is a field that constantly evolves and draws from other sources and we are lucky to be in an industry that loves to share! If mentoring is something you’ve been thinking about for a while, but never quite gotten around to, here’s a few reminders of the benefits that may help you to promote it from the “non-urgent” box to an objective for the new year…

5 benefits of having a mentor
1. Draw from someone else’s experience
2. Get a fresh perspective
3. Gain some reassurance that you’re not on this journey alone
4. Increase your network of like-minded professionals
5. Take control of your career

5 benefits of being a mentor
1. Give something back to the community
2. Strengthen your interpersonal skills
3. Refresh your own knowledge and perspectives
4. Increase your self-belief by sharing your knowledge
5. Gain fresh perspectives from newcomers to the industry or those in different roles to your own

How do you get involved?
To start with you need to be an eLN member! Signing up takes less than 5 minutes via our website and instantly puts a wealth of resources and benefits at your fingertips. Once you’ve signed up you simply complete the online form and one of the eLN Mentoring team will contact you to discuss – easy-peasy!

So what are you waiting for? Make 2016 the year of personal and professional development. Open up your network, make new friends within the industry and give something back to the eLearning community.