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According to Study.com, “The origins of both the concept of mentorship or the professional training of a pupil by a more experienced peer, as well as the name ‘mentor’ comes from Homer’s classic poem, The Odyssey. Homer’s poem was written about 800 BCE and describes a time around 1200 BCE when the character Odysseus, king of Ithaca, was preparing to leave for Troy. During his preparations, he wanted to ensure there was someone who could look after his son, Telemachus, in his absence. He appointed someone to act in his place as a teacher, advisor, and friend. This guardian’s name was Mentor.”

Mentorship for the mentee can make one a better leader, help you set professional and personal goals, offer encouragement during challenging seasons, open the pathway to professional connections, and so much more. 

In her debut business book,  The Legaliteas of Entrepreneurship: The Relentless Pursuit of Excellence and Balance in Starting Your Own Business, highly successful entrepreneur and attorney Lisa Bonner, Esq. attributes her career success to the support provided by mentors and others along her journey. “When I started as a young lawyer, especially a black female attorney in a white man’s industry I didn’t have a lot of mentors, as there just weren’t many women in the area. But fortunately, I did have people who believed in me, my smarts, and my hustle”, said Bonner. 

Bonner is a veteran entertainment and intellectual property attorney who provides counsel for large media companies, film distribution companies, producers, writers, and publishers for her firm’s music, television, and film clients.  In her book, she recalls being proactive and teaching herself entertainment law which impressed her friend Keenan Ivory Wayans, who would offer to make the introduction to his own entertainment attorney, Stephen Barnes.

“Stephen became my mentor. He regularly took me to lunch, and I always came prepared with questions as he helped guide and foster certain aspects of my career. Twenty-plus years later, I chose Stephen, as my entertainment attorney when I had deals where I personally serve as talent, and now, my firm, Bonner Law PC, serves as outside counsel to the same firm where I met him as a young lawyer some 20-plus years earlier.”

In 2007 a now seasoned Bonner along with 10 other female entertainment lawyers co-founded Black Women in Entertainment Law (BWEL) to mentor aspiring BIPOC entertainment lawyers. Currently, she serves on the mentoring committee of the International Women’s Forum.

Mentoring and networking are indeed connected, especially when aiding individuals in the same occupational field where the quality of your connections can gain you access to the room and the opportunities in it.

Here are Bonner’s 4 tips for building meaningful professional relationships:

  1. Be Organic
  2. Be Strategic
  3. Be Kind and Witty
  4. Make a Good First Impression

“If handled correctly, you are setting yourself up to win with networking. Remember, people tend to do business with people they like and are familiar with. So, organically, be in it to win it.”

Attorney Lisa Bonner

Lisa Bonner graduated with honors from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism and received a J.D. from the New York University School of Law. She is a silver-star member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated and a critically acclaimed television producer on several productions including Little Ballers, Little Ballers Indiana, and Foreman, the authorized biography of George Foreman which debuted on Epix. She currently has several television productions in development with various media companies.