coffee-cups-300x199Every human interaction and personal or business relationship gives us the opportunity to add value or to subtract value. It’s easy to choose the former, because we each have unique value to add.

Two years ago I started providing training to mentors and mentees participating in The Law Society of NSW’s Women’s Mentoring Progam. It’s a formal program, designed to match senior lawyers with others in their field who have walked the path before them.

It’s a wonderful initiative and a successful program.

In training the prospective mentees I quickly noticed a pattern. The women were really excited about the program, but many of them were suspicious about it.

Lawyers are inherently trained to be skeptical, so in asking some questions it didn’t really surprise me to hear the women say “We wonder what’s in it for the mentors? Why would they give up their valuable time to help me when I have nothing to give them in return?”

This theme is also one I see regularly in my clients, women and men, when we are working on their networking plans.

In some ways it’s heartening to work with people who understand that networking and mentoring is a two way street – you have to give to get.

However, it’s also concerning to me when individuals believe they have nothing to add in terms of value to another individual, in a business or a personal context.

One of the key tools I use with my clients is an assessment that identifies your top 5 strengths. It’s an amazing tool for helping you understand and take ownership of your strengths.

One of the key reasons I love it is that each client’s top 5 strengths is unique – while they may share strengths with others, the order and value of those strengths is unique to them.

In our homogenised, globalised world, it’s easy to forget that each of us does indeed have unique strengths, talents, experience and value to share.

Marketing and advertising tells us we are just the same as everyone else. We desperately try to fit in, rather than stand out.

Yet no-one else has the unique blend of experience, skills, strengths, talents, passion, successes, flaws or failures that make up you.

Next time you are with your mentor, manager, or a networking connection, remember that. And focus on how you can add value, as a result.

Understanding your unique strengths and talents not only benefits you, it allows you to focus on how you can add value in any relationship. It’s a true example of a win-win scenario. tweet this

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