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Social mentoring






You are probably well versed on social networking; millions of people log into some of the popular social networking sites every day and some companies have even set up their own social networking sites for their employees. People are checking out who is viewing their profiles and who is connected to whom, as well as sharing status updates, liking things, commenting and finding out what their network is doing.  But, when it comes to social mentoring, there are a lot of uncertainties about what it is and how it all works.

Let’s look back to the time before social networking sites. People networked by attending events and functions. They also asked friends, family and colleagues for referrals. Before social mentoring sites, you would try to figure out who your ideal mentor was and reach out to them by giving them a call. You may have even dropped by the Human Resources department and asked for a mentor. Some HR managers would have taken out an Excel spreadsheet and matched you to a mentor and others may have provided materials on how to approach a mentor in the workplace. These approaches still happen and still work today. But it’s more effective to integrate some new strategies while continuing to use some of the old ones.

Social mentoring sites have made it easier to find a mentor/mentee — think of these sites as the eHarmony of mentoring. Like eHarmony, you can quickly build a profile that outlines who you are and what you do and then you can search for someone and ask for an initial meeting. In the case of eHarmony, you would be asking for a date, which can be a lot more intimidating than social mentoring.

Who to invite to a mentoring relationship

On social networking sites, you generally reach out to the people that you know. There are some exceptions to this rule; open networkers, for example, invite everyone to their network and accept all invitations. For social mentoring, sometimes you are reaching out to a total stranger, however, sometimes you may be joining a specific mentoring community which brings people together with a commonality such as working at the same company, belonging to the same association and/or graduating from the same college or university. The neat thing about this is that everyone is connected because of an organization that they are passionate about and committed to and therefore they will be more likely to pay-it-forward.

Before you invite someone to be your mentor, think about what you are focussed on developing.  Also, you may want to determine who your ideal mentor is, what they do, which city they live in and other things that are important to you. Most social mentoring sites will make it easier for you by recommending your top mentors/mentees. Read through their profiles carefully and determine if they are the right fit.

How to meet your mentor/mentee

On a social networking site, you ask someone to join your network or be your friend. For social mentoring, you will arrange an actual meeting. Many believe that everything will be online and that you will only be meeting by video conferencing, live text chat, texting and email. But, that is actually not the case; you may also be meeting in-person and over-the-phone. Actually, if you are thinking about establishing a longer-term, formal mentoring relationship, I recommend that the first conversation be over-the-phone, because then you can get a feeling as the whether there is good chemistry between the two of you and you can get a better sense as to whether this person will be able to help you or not.

The advantages of social mentoring sites

  • You can start mentoring relationships with people from around the world and gain diverse insights and perspectives.
  • They make it easier for you to determine your ideal mentor/mentee.
  • You can keep track of all your mentoring relationships online and even the goals that you have achieved.
  • The people on a social mentoring site are generally committed to giving back and participating in a series of give-and-take relationships.

The disadvantages of social mentoring sites

  • You may need to follow up and show your excitement for a mentor/mentee to accept your request.
  • You may not have an opportunity to meet your mentor in-person.
  • You may need to play it safe and only meet in-person once you have established trust.
  • The relationship may start to fizzle out. But that can also happen with mentoring relationships established in traditional ways.

As you can see, we are just scratching the surface here; social mentoring sites open the door to amazing possibilities – things you may have never imagined for yourself and/or your organization. They can help you to learn anything, grow and develop one conversation at a time. With the expertise that you are looking to gain, you can get connected to people from all over the world. It’s pretty exciting, just go into it with an open mind, build meaningful mentoring relationships, stay engaged, and nothing will be able to hold you back from achieving your goals.


About the Author:

Shawn Mintz, the President of MentorCity has over 10 years’ experience in the career and employment services sector. He has created award-winning mentoring initiatives that have helped thousands of people to achieve greater success. MentorCity provides on-line mentoring and coaching programs that connect your members to meaningful relationships. There is also a global mentoring community that can be accessed by the public. For further information, please visit www.MentorCity.com.

We are delighted to have Shawn Mintz as a guest author to our blog site. Shawn is very passionate about mentoring and believes in the “gift of mentoring”.