Let’s Talk About Social Mentoring

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You are probably well versed on social networking; many millions of people log into some of the popular social networking sites. 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 tradeshows, 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. 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 focused 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.

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. 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.

© 2014 by Shawn Mintz. Shawn Mintz, the Founder and President of MentorCity, an online mentoring program, has spent over a decade in the career and employment services sector. Realizing the importance of mentoring, Shawn has been driven to develop award winning mentoring solutions that have helped thousands of people to achieve greater success, personally and professionally. In recognition of his efforts, Shawn has received George Brown College’s Career and Work Counsellor Crystal Award for Innovation and been profiled in Canadian Newcomer Magazine as a Canadian who has demonstrated commitment to helping new Canadians succeed. He has also published an eBook called MentorCity: How a few minutes with the right person can change your life. For further information, please visit www.MentorCity.com

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