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  • Writer's pictureWhitney Kippes

Where do we go to grow?

Several months ago I wrote about the mentorship gap in business development. Frustrated by what I’d seen, I couldn’t contain my outrage that junior business development staff were caught in a trap. With most business development teams overstretched, they can’t learn skills because no one has the time to teach them and they can’t do more (manage proposals, oversee budgets) because they haven’t managed to learn those skills.

In our latest monthly newsletter (sign-up at the bottom of this page!), SJ voiced her own frustration having consistently struck out at finding opportunities for mentorship through industry networking events. Those events failed to establish real relationships because they are so transactional. I’m sure we’ve all been to those - sure, you get a dozen business cards, but how often does it manifest an authentic connection?

Business development focused spaces have a history of being one of those things - a business card desk-clutter factory or a meaningless meat market for business partnerships. The authentic connections which foster learning and long-term professional relationships just don’t have a space to incubate and grow.

There’s a mentorship gap there, and it’s one that is grating on me more and more lately.

How are business development professionals supposed to grow and develop if there isn’t space to build authentic peer-to-peer relationships within the industry?

We need a new space where industry professionals can connect and learn new skills - especially the soft skills of negotiation, managing up, and communication which are so vital for business development professionals.

SJ and I are putting together a pilot to create small groups of business development professionals with the goal of creating a supportive space to co-mentor one another, ask questions, and share ideas on how to avoid burnout.

Together we want to find out exactly what that space would look like. How do we build the right atmosphere to avoid the partnership meat market? How do we create an inclusive environment where everyone’s voices are heard? How do we build skills in a collaborative space? All of these elements need to be worked through.

Get in touch if you’re interested in joining a six-week experiment or nominating someone from your team to join in!

Our first group will be aimed at professionals in their first three years of business development, but we are open to hearing from anyone who would be interested.

No strings attached, no deliverables – just a space in which to grow.

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