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A Mentoring Relationship Meant to Be

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Photo credit: Tang Yan Song / Shutterstock.com

Atlanta Braves director of special events Sabrina Jenkins and real estate attorney Sylvia Jones exchanged contact information at the 2015 Speed Mentoring Roundtables event hosted by the Atlanta chapter of WISE; several months later, the two were paired together for the chapter's WISE Within mentoring program.

"It was meant to be," says Jenkins, who has been a WISE Within mentor since the launch of the program. The pair recently spoke with WISE Within Blog editor Kristina M. Dodge about the keys to a successful mentoring relationship, making time to build on the relationship, and the difference between networking in the sports arena and the legal world (yes, there is one!).

Applying to WISE Within

Sabrina, what drew you to the mentoring program in the first place, and what keeps you returning as a mentor?

Jenkins: I've always been a big believer in mentoring. In the past, I've had wonderful mentors myself, so I find it very important, and it's been very helpful throughout my career, and I'm just interested in giving back.

Sylvia, in applying to the program, what were you hoping to accomplish?

Jones: I'm a real estate attorney who wants to transition into the sports industry. I Googled "sports associations and Atlanta," and I found WISE.

Making the Time to Meet

What was your first meeting as mentor-mentee like?

Jenkins: It was a lunch during the work day. We met up and discussed really what Sylvia wanted to get out of the program and started the conversation from there. Since then, we've developed this kind of wonderful friendship that I value, and we're very close in age, so I always tell her, "I'm supposed to be the mentor, but I feel, a lot of times, like the mentee," and that's another thing that I love about the program. You can also learn as a mentor from your mentee.

Between professional and personal obligations, people are busier than ever. What are some of the keys to making the time to build on your relationship?

Jones: Sabrina's downtown. I'm either downtown or in my office, so if I know that I'm meeting Sabrina, I work downtown. Work lunches work for us, and [our restaurant of choice], Six Feet Under, is very close to her office and very close to where I am. At the end of the day, you have to eat at some point. If we weren't both downtown — my office is like 40 minutes away — I would schedule a call-in with Sabrina, and I would eat lunch at my desk and talk to her.

Jenkins: And we also attend a lot of events together. If I have an extra seat somewhere, if I can invite two or three of the mentees that I have, I will because I also maintain relationships with my mentees from the program from previous years.

Building a Successful Mentoring Relationship

What makes a mentoring relationship successful?

Jones: You have to fill a need, and that person has to want what you have to offer and vice versa. What I think happened with Sabrina and how all the stars aligned is I'm outside of the sports industry, but I know sports and I know law. … Sabrina's in the sports industry; she's a networker like no other. So she has something I need and I want, whereas she can call me with any legal question. If I don't know it, I know a lawyer who does.

Jenkins: I completely agree. I think that there has to be a need, and I've got to be able to provide my mentees with answers to their questions, whatever their questions may be.

What was the biggest takeaway for each of you?

Jenkins: It continues. Just because the program ended, obviously, Sylvia and I are still meeting up, so the relationship really does continue, and it grows into a friendship.

Jones: Learning how to network in the sports industry. Sabrina taught me the difference. I'm surrounded by lawyers. Everything is either a negotiation, or you're fighting. That's our reality. You're not necessarily looking at people like, "We're going to sing ‘Kumbaya;' we're going to become friends." That's not really how it works, and so learning to navigate a little differently has been my biggest takeaway.

Sabrina Jenkins and Sylvia Jones

About Sabrina Jenkins and Sylvia Jones

Sabrina Jenkins is the director of special events for the Atlanta Braves. Her duties include negotiating contracts and managing budgets/overall marketing strategies while supervising and executing event logistics. Real estate attorney Sylvia Jones is the owner of The Law Firm of Sylvia R. Jones.

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