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Sink or Swim: Mentor Relationships Make All the Difference

By Rebecca Amboy

men·tor noun \ˈmen-ˌtȯr, –Raising Handstər\ : a trusted counselor or guide

Let’s rewind. Whether you are a new college graduate or a seasoned professional, do you remember when you thought you knew exactly what your career would entail? Most of us likely held an inaccurate view of the working world. That’s where a mentor or a trusted counselor comes into play.

A mentor can help navigate and clarify your career path. I’ve been fortunate to serve as a mentor twice through formal programs and have also provided guidance to younger professionals through more casual settings. With only a few years of experience under my belt, I was still able to help undergraduate students and young professionals kick-start their careers by teaching them about day-to-day office life, networking, improving their resumes and cover letters, and marketing themselves in the digital space. Similarly, I’ve benefited from sitting on the other side of casual mentor relationships, where I learned about being more proactive in the workplace, exceeding expectations and efficiently managing others.

If you are a young professional, I recommend finding a role model who can serve as your mentor. From simple pointers, such as dress code recommendations, to larger-scale discussions, like career and education diversity, these conversations will help you develop a strong path for success.

And no matter your career level, there are always younger, fresh faces that can benefit from your knowledge. Use your experiences, both positive and negative, to help guide and inspire them. For example, impress the importance of body language or sharpening writing skills. Things that may seem obvious and natural to you may be new territory for a younger professional or college student.

Most professional associations, alumni groups and even some companies have formal mentorship programs. Informal coffee breaks or lunches can also serve as casual ways to share your industry knowledge.

What’s the most beneficial advice you’ve received from a mentor?

Media 101: Thought Leadership Drives Market Positioning

By Mike Niederquell

A powerful tool that Quell deftly deploys to build market preference for our clients is media relations. Being part of — if not leading — an ongoing industry dialogue through the media credibly puts our clients at the forefront of thought leadership.

Plunkett Cooney, one of Michigan’s largest law firms, partners with The Quell Group to increase visibility for its growing and high-margin areas of practice, including banking/bankruptcy law, health care law, and labor and employment law. Quell recognized the unique expertise of the firm’s attorneys and saw an opportunity to position Plunkett Cooney counsel as expert commentators on the day’s prevailing and topical issues.

Quell conducted extensive research to determine which local and regional media outlets were covering these issues regularly or as breaking news warranted. The team then researched new and pending legislation, regulatory changes, business/industry trends and ongoing news coverage to determine the issues and story concepts that would most likely be well-received by media members. Quell also assessed what issues were being “under-covered” or even ignored by the media that warranted reporting.

The willingness of Plunkett Cooney attorneys to be spokespersons and participate in news cycles was crucial to establishing firm leadership and educating journalists. Through webinars, media roundtables and editorial boards organized and executed by Quell, Plunkett Cooney attorneys forged relationships with reporters, demonstrating their knowledge and ability to provide needed information on deadline.

Quell also positioned the firm through direct contact with reporters on the topics that matter, using its expertise to anticipate the news rather than react to it.

Quell more than quadrupled the number of media hits year-over-year in key outlets including Crain’s Detroit Business, Detroit Free Press, The Detroit News, The Associated Press, MLive, WXYZ-TV, WDIV-TV, WJR-AM, WWJ-AM, The Huffington Post and Michigan Lawyers Weekly.

These efforts also resulted in Plunkett Cooney being named a finalist for the prestigious Legal Marketing Association’s Your Honor Award for the organization’s Midwest chapter.

Say What?

By Brian Bleau

How many times have you text messaged a friend or significant other and jumped to an irrational conclusion after reading their response? You write something like, “What do you want to do for dinner?” They reply with something like, “Whatever, it doesn’t matter.”

Before you know it, you’re wondering why the person on the other end is being short with you, you suspect something is wrong and begin feverishly drafting your retort, and things escalate from there.

Communicating through keystrokes and characters, most times 140 or less, extracts the inflection and tonality from conversation, sometimes leaving your point of view unclear to the recipient ─ even if you use emoticons. I can think of instances in my personal and professional life where picking up the phone and calling the other person would’ve prevented a barrage of text messages or emails trying to clarify a prior question or comment.

The key to communicating messages effectively is clarity. Ensuring that your recipient interprets the message as intended, with the shortest possible distance between transmission and comprehension, is paramount. What better way to ensure clarity (and build rapport) than to pick up the phone and engage in back-and-forth dialogue, asking and answering questions?

Relationships are the foundation of our personal and professional lives. Help your audience, whoever it may be, build a relationship with you, not the virtual you on their laptop or phone screen.