In this week's episode of the podcast, Sarah chats with Montse about the benefits of mentorship, both as a mentee and a mentor.
Fully bilingual (English/ Spanish with French), I am a passionate and resilient SEO and 360º international digital marketer with a strong focus on supporting both commercial growth and digitalisation by delivering projects that help solving issues. I have spoken at eCommerce Expo, MeasureCamp and SEO Day among others, and mentored other SEO/ digital professionals to help make the industry stronger.
Where to find Montse:
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Hello and welcome to the SEO Mindset Podcast. Your hosts are myself, Sarah McDowell, and the wonderful Tazmin Sulleman. And this is your go to podcast for personal career growth advice, actionable tips that you can take away and start to implement. Now, I have a wonderful guest joining me today, so their name is Montse Cano and she is fully bilingual. English, Spanish with French. She is a passionate and resilient SEO and 360 degrees international digital marketer with a strong focus on supporting both commercial growth and digitalisation by delivering projects that help solve issues. Welcome to the show, Montse.Montse:
Thank you. And thank you so much for having me. It's very exciting.Sarah:
And can I just check this? I am pronouncing your name. Right, I know we had some yes, I was practicing beforehand, wasn't I?Montse:
But you were all right.Sarah:
And you're bilingual. That's amazing. It's always been something I want to do, is learn another language.Montse:
It's just a matter of practice. Practice and interest. You're going to start by watching movies, perhaps with subtitles, small books, newspaper, et cetera, but also talking to people. And it needs to be done kind of continuously. It's not something that you pick up in five minutes.Sarah:
Damn it, I wish you could pick it up in five minutes.Montse:
You probably found a pill.Sarah:
So, how are you doing? How is your Thursday treating you?Montse:
I'm doing all right. It's been a great week so far, solving so many issues as well. It's always good. How's yours?Sarah:
Lovely, yes. So I've got a couple of days off work, so that's always nice. So, yeah, I've had a good week. Thank you. And whereabouts in the world are you?Montse:
I am now based in Madrid.Sarah:
Lovely. Lovely. You say now based in Madrid. Have you recently moved or?Montse:
Yeah, I moved from London back to Madrid about a year and a half ago and still feels like strange, you know, settling, etc, etc. E. Well, yeah, I have lived here in the UK for 19 years and a bit. Yeah, very much familiar with UK and London and everything. So now back in Madrid, lean, basically, to get to know the environment and everything. Yeah, it's an exciting time.Sarah:
Wonderful. I've never been to Madrid. It's on the list, so hopefully I can get over there. Now, let's talk about what this week's episode is about. So, obviously, we've been chatting on Twitter and yeah, we sort of decided that a good subject to talk about is mentoring. Right? Like the importance of doing it, what you can get from it, the difference between being a mentor and a mentee. So I think this is going to be a really great episode for our listeners. So let's start with the most obvious question, then, the easiest question. What is mentoring?Montse:
I guess we can define mentoring in different ways, but to me, it has always been a collaborative relationship between the mentor and the mentee, just so the mentor can support and guide. It doesn't have to be a junior person to you or anything, it can be somebody at the same level, etc. Just as a mentor support them and guide them through a specific relationship or a specific situation at work or in life.Sarah:
Awesome. And so that relationship is really important then, I suppose, because to get the most out of the mentorship, you need to have a good connection there.Montse:
Yeah, I think so. I think a mentorship relationship only works if the mentor and the mentee actually match somehow. So for example, in my experience, the people I have to provide this mentorship have had similar background to me, or maybe they have been going through a specific issue within their work or their life, which has been very similar to the kind of issues that I have been dealing with during my career and my personal life. It's not a relationship where the mentor actually tells the mentee what to do, but a relationship where the mentee get a few tips as to how best to approach a situation. Because this is an industry who needs to actually implement those or realize within their own circumstances and skill set and everything else, what they need to do. So it's just somebody to bounce ideas off sometimes. Especially when you are working with somebody else who might not be doing the same thing as you are doing, who might not have the same background, who might not be even in the same team, but you are working next to each other, et cetera, et cetera. So you need somebody to bounce ideas of relation to an SEO campaign perhaps, or an idea about keyword research or keyword fluttering or anything else, or just something that you can't even talk to somebody else in the company simply because there is a complex of interest in there.Sarah:
Okay, so you previously mentioned about having mentorship or you received mentoring. What made you sign up for that and what did you find that you got out of it?Montse:
First of all, I haven't realized I could actually receive it. I thought mentoring and coaching were exactly the same thing and it was more for senior exact members of the C suite, for example, which is obviously not the case, but at that moment in time when I first signed up, I didn't know anybody who was having mentorship or who was in mentoring or anything. So I really thought it was more about coaching executive senior directors who wanted to advance in their career. And then I realized that it was not quite the case, it could work for everybody. So I decided to sign up to see whether I could resolve some issues, which made me clear, but also to see whether it was actually right for me, because it might not even be right for me. And that's one thing that everybody is signing up for mentoring or to give some mentorship needs to realize it might not be for them because it involves a little bit of work.Sarah:
Yeah, definitely. You made a really good point earlier. So you said that you need to fit the mentor and the mentee needs to fit from a similar background or same ethics, same way of thinking or something like that. You need to fit somehow. Is there anything else that you can like tip wise about how you can get more out of your mentoring?Montse:
One tip that I would give to everyone who wishes to have a little bit of mentoring or give mentoring is to have very clear or more or less clear idea as to what they want to get out of it. Why they need mentoring. Is it because they want to advance in their career? Is it because they want to get out of a very sticky problem? Is it something else that I can think of at this moment in time? Or simply they just want somebody to bounce ideas off it's so important. I think that's the best tip, because a mentor is never going to tell you what to do in terms of commanding you to do what I said, what they are going to provide you with the tools to realize what exactly it is, the problem, or the angles that you could actually take. Not even the right angle, but the different angles that you could use to approach an issue that you might have.Sarah:
And I think it's a really good point about being collaborative together and bouncing ideas off each other because there's a lot of people who at their company, they might be the only person that works on SEO. Right, I hear that a lot. So I think that can be quite lonely. And whilst there's awesome groups to be part of so for example, the Women in Tech, SEO community, wonderful community to be part of, and there's more forums and there's communities on Twitter, LinkedIn, find Your Tribe sort of thing. But I definitely think mentoring also is another way of going about it, isn't it? Because like you said, you can just talk to someone who's in the same field. You can bounce ideas off. It's a safe space as well. Like no idea is going to be stupid, nothing's going to be off the table, sort of thing. Do you normally have to pay for mentoring or is there ways that you can go about? Is there anywhere that offers it for free that you know?Montse:
As far as I know, I haven't heard of any paid for program for mentorship or mentoring. That's what I mean. I think for coaching it's different because there's a whole set of professionals who actually do that for a living and there's a master degree, certificate, courses just to do that with the aim of helping those professionals to actually develop a career in that field. But that is totally different. I have provided mentorship. I guess we can talk about it later, officially and officially, people asking for advice, et cetera, et cetera. And I know that the Women in Tech SEO program is a fantastic way for women working in Tech SEO to get as many drinks that they need. That's what they are looking for, that is for free. And it is really, really, really good because it's a real problem. It is planned. It's not like, let's provide some mentoring. It's not about let's match people up. A whole process that is being implemented also by specialists in there, which is very good. Now, there are other organizations who actually do that as well for different groups of people. For example, the Wyk, I think it's something like What You Know, which is another organization that is dedicated to youth development, youth development inside digital. So people who want to work in digital marketing or analytics. And it's a wonderful program as well. That's for youngsters. I think it's for people who are not in a university level as yet, but they may be, or they want to utilize those skill sets within their careers at university, because if they do medicine, for example, or something like that. And as far as I know, that it's portfolio as well.Sarah:
Yeah. So lots of places to go. And just to go back to you mentioning the Women in Tech SEO community, so that exists as a community on Slack. And I think there's also a Facebook group, so you can always go and ask advice. But they also Women in Tech SEO have lots of different initiatives, and one of their initiatives is a mentorship scheme. So what the community does and what a region does is she matches up mentors with mentees. And yes, it's just one of the great initiatives that Women in Tech SEO do. First time hearing is the one that you said for the youth people. So I will make sure that the youth people, the youth I just need to say youth stoner. So we'll make sure that all we'll link out to that. And I suppose as well, there's lots of way, lots of ways that you can ask for mentorship, right? It doesn't necessarily have to be a program. I mean, the program is great because it's structured, there's a plan, do you know what I mean? But sometimes you could just reach out to someone that you admire or that you see doing lots of stuff on social or other communities, or they're a speaker, right? You can always reach out to them, ask them, and say, would you like to be a mentor? And the worst thing that can happen is they're going to say no.Montse:
Right, that's totally correct. And sometimes you just don't need a mentor. You need somebody to talk to you about something very specific and the relationship can end there. But it's just a matter of reaching out and see whether that person has a little bit of time. Most of the time people will say yes because it's nice. And this is how the industry works. And it's one of the wonderful things about the digital marketing industry or the SEO sector. But if you do have a problem, just reach out to somebody you think you can help, you can ask for help. Because their experience might be something that you can use. Definitely. They might have gone through the same situation as you, exactly the same thing. And you can develop yourself in that way and you can implement those things. You can flourish. Because sometimes we are so stuck. We have a day to day and we can't really see beyond all that because we need to implement everything that we are given. We need to think about the strategy for this, for that. And then what happens is that we can't stop and think. And a lot of the times we need to stop and think and we can't do it most of the time with somebody you have to work with.Sarah:
Yes, definitely. And something else that I just sprung into my mind as well is I definitely wish that I reached out, asked for help, ask for advice, ask for questions much earlier on in my career. Because I think there is this idea that when you first start somewhere, especially if you get hired as an SEO professional, you don't want to ask questions, right, because you feel, well, they've hired me for this job. We need to stop thinking like that, right? You can't know everything. Like you might not have an experience in it. SEO is so broad. There's so much that you can get your teeth stuck into, right? So there's going to be new things that are going to be popping up all the time that you've not even had experience. And that's okay, just go out and ask. And the sooner you start asking questions, the sooner you can sort of reach out and be part of communities and make friends in the space, the better.Montse:
No, totally. I mean, it's rather difficult to know about everything. There's always going to be people who have a broad mindset of who are very curious and know about this and that and everything. There was going to be also people who prefer specializing on specific issues like international or specific matters. Not issues really like international SEO. People who are going to know more about XML site maps or fascination, et cetera. And that will happen because even if you're serious about everything else, you will have to deal with different issues such as patination, because this was a huge matter within the companies you have worked with, or you have done more of it than migrations or the other way around. It's just a matter of thinking, well, I don't know everything. Let's just ask somebody who might know about something specific that I don't know. Or maybe that person can point you out in the right direction and it's no shame whatsoever. I was brought up thinking exactly like that. Like, once you actually reach to a point where they have hired you to do a job or you are senior enough or you are doing XYZ, you have to know about that and you have to be an expert. And being an expert means knowing everything, 100% of everything. And that's not exactly the case, especially not in marketing. Everything changes. It's changing as we speak. We can't know absolutely everything, and there's no shame in not knowing absolutely everything. You can't say I know everything, because that is not true. But you can't say that I know a lot of opportunities. If you don't know it, and internal clients or external clients, if you don't know about that matter, then read about it. Reach out to somebody. I love that.Sarah:
So there is no shame, people, if there's one key thing to take away from part one, because we are about to take a break, because there's a lot of information. So we're going to take a short break. The main thing to take from part one is there is no shame. Ask questions, get talking to people. Yeah. And then when we're back with part two, we're going to talk about the other side. So becoming a mentor. Hello. We are back. Did you have a nice break, Montse?Montse:
Yes, I did. Thank you. Did you?Sarah:
I did. I had some water. You know, hydration is important. So thank you so much for giving so many great tips. And it was great to chat about taking on mentorship or having some mentoring. Let's change the tables now. Let's talk about becoming a mentor. Right? So you've had both. You've been a mentee and you've been a mentor. So what made you sign up as a mentor? Yeah, and why should other people sign up?Montse:
I have to say that, first of all, I signed up to be a mentor before I was an mentee, before I signed up to be an mentee. And the reason why is because I realized that I should have taken this advice earlier on in my career, and I didn't. And this is because, as I said before, I just thought that mentorship and coaching were exactly the same thing. And that was for senior executives to be able to get into the history and then also being able to attend those meetings, et cetera, and not for the rest of us, which sounds slightly seemingly as well, because you actually need that mentorship. If anything, you need that mentorship, that advice to guide you into your career, into the history. This is what you want. But this is not something that was made available to me. And so I thought this is success for others, because I don't really think that mentoring was publicized or discussed as much as it is now. And that is not something that is right. So I signed up for that.Sarah:
I have to 100% agree because I remember when I first saw I've been working in Sea for over ten years and yeah, early on I had no idea that this was even a thing because I thought coaching mentorship was for like you say, the senior execs or business owners or that kind of thing. So it's really interesting because when you first said that you were a mentor before you were a mentee, I thought, oh, that's interesting. But as you explained it, it makes sense for those who are thinking about being a mentor, what makes you a good mentor? And how can you get over this? Like fear of not knowing enough? Or am I going to be a good mentor? Or do I have enough to say?Montse:
Just like everything, you need to learn how to do it properly as well. So it's not something that you actually are born with. You definitely learn how to do it, which is one very good reason for you to join the mentorship scheem that we Areej, the Women in Tech, SEO or any other mentorship schemes out there. I know there are some organizations that are being backed up by banks, for example, who actually do that too as part of the CSR programs. So it's just about you thinking, first of all, I don't know everything, but I do know something and somebody might need my help in sorting out a situation or in making a decision or something like that. It's not your job to actually pair you up with anybody. Somebody else will actually do it for you. So that the relationship can actually be, I was going to say profitable, but it's not like that. So the relationship can be of use effective. Effective, exactly to both of you. And also, another thing that everybody needs to think about is that it's a learning process. So you collaborate with that person or they collaborate with you so that their relationship is effective and you help them out. But then also with their views and their relationship, they can actually help you out as well. Yeah, I don't know. Just think about your previous relationships or previous situations. What you don't know what you want to know. That person might actually provide you with some information that you didn't even know while you are talking to them. It's something that comes up while you are collaborating with them and that is great. I have learned a bit about situations and bits and pieces, angles that I haven't even considered maybe when the young girl that I did consider at that moment in time did actually work. But it's such a fascinating actually you.Sarah:
Don'T need to know everything, right? And it's collaborative, you're talking about stuff and if you've got experience, do you know what I mean? Or you've just got another viewpoint. Sometimes if someone presents like a project or an idea or something, just someone else taking that in and being like, oh, if you thought of this, if you thought of that, right? Everyone's got experiences, don't worry. Do you know what I mean? You're going to give something just by being there. Sometimes you'll just need to be a sound board, right? Sometimes it might just be validation, like, yes, you do know what you want about, right? So there's lots of different ways that you can be a good mentor.Montse:
Yes, definitely. And the good thing about these programs is that mentorship team programs is that they are structured in a way that help you as a mentor throughout the process as well. So you don't feel alone. I've never felt alone, to be perfectly honest. And it's been really good. It's another skill set, to be honest. It's another skill set about intense listening and collaboration and yeah, it's just great. But knowing that you are following some kind of structure does help you very much.Sarah:
Wonderful. I mean, I could just sit and chat to you about this all day, monsieur, but we are unfortunately running out of time. Time just goes so fast on these podcast episodes. So what is the one main thing that you want people to take away from today? Just the main key thing.Montse:
I would say have a sit. Think about think about your situation at the moment in time. As you go into a situation that you need help with, is there anything that you need to ask somebody? Is there anything you need help to sort out? Because either way, then maybe mentorship is an idea or maybe you just need somebody to talk about that, but not as part of a specific scheme or anything. Just a conversation might help. Consider that. Consider doing that, consider reaching out. And then if you feel that you are experiencing enough or you have some knowledge that you can basically help, other people can consider becoming a mentor as well. I believe this is one great way in which the SEO and digital marketing industry can actually make it sell strong. Because I know this has been happening in financial services before. I know it has been happening in other sectors. So by supporting each other, we'll actually make the SEO industry and ourselves better, stronger.Sarah:
Love it. Yeah, love it. Okay. And another question that we always ask every podcast guest best career advice you've ever received.Montse:
You have to be, first of all, strategic in the way you think even about your career. Because it's not about being strategic at work all the time, but also in your life, in your career. Think about where you want to be.Sarah:
Thank you so much for joining me and it's been great to chat about all things mentoring. I think this has been a really great episode for our listeners. Where can people find you to carry on the conversation?Montse:
I am very active on LinkedIn and on Twitter. My hashtag is Montse Cano. M-O-N-T-S-E-C-A-N-O. My website is on its way, but once it's up and running, people can definitely find me there too.Sarah:
Okay, so I will include your social handles and links in the show notes so people can do that. So I want to say thank you again for tuning in for another episode of the SEO Mindset podcast. Yes, we are finishing every episode now with a pledge, and I want us all to say this together. I am an SEO professional who makes sure that they prioritize mindset and personal growth and not just rankings, improving visibility and algorithms. Did you say that pledge in your head, monsieur?Montse:
Great, right? Take care, everyone, and goodbye. Monsie.Montse:
Goodbye. Thank you so much for having me on.