In today’s connected world, mentoring for leadership and career development is easier than you might think. With collaboration and video conferencing tools, you can build relationships across the globe and develop your career from the comfort of your own home. Don’t get me wrong; meeting in person is always preferred. But, could you mentor remotely? Of course! Let me show you. Follow these five steps to launch your distance mentoring relationships into the cybersphere.
1. Incorporate Google tools in your mentoring work plan
From Google Hangouts to Google+, the search-engine super star has many gizmos that are perfect for mentoring. If you haven’t joined Google+, I highly recommend that you do so quickly. In addition, use Google Drive to share and collaborate on documents, projects and presentations with your mentors or mentees. It’s easy and makes working together simple and cooperative.
2. Create a LinkedIn group
With LinkedIn, you can produce and share content with large groups of people. But what about sharing content with a select few? The platform allows you to leverage groups to build a safe space to share experiences and to network.
3. Adopt a video conferencing tool
Meeting face-to-face is such an important part of building relationship. Now we have technology that can help. From iMeet to Fuze, there are many conferencing services available. With the right tool, you can connect with your mentees (or mentors) from anywhere and even maintain your meeting schedule. So, when you’re working on the road or traveling with your family, check in with your mentor and continue to build your relationship via video. If you have an iPhone, you can Facetime in to meetings and touch base with your mentees with the click of a button.
4. Use Twitter to connect
I expect my mentees to continuously grow their careers and develop as people. When I can’t see my mentees, or I have to miss a meeting, Twitter allows me to stay in touch. You can use the platform to check in, comment on work or add your two cents to project or personal development. Want to send a private message? The platform offers that function as well. Don’t fret the 140-character limit; it can be a blessing — trust me.
5. Encourage your mentees to use social media
Social media is an excellent place to build a professional network, find a mentor and nourish your relationships — use it. You should use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest to share your ideas and build a community of people that share your interests. The world has never been more connected, so get out there and meet people.
As you can see, there are many tools out there to help you stay connected and continue to build your professional relationships. It’s up to you to use them.
If you have questions, contact us. We’re here to help you.
In a recent survey conducted through our Center for Mentoring Excellence, listening emerged as the top mentoring best practice. Readers of our monthly e-letter, Mentoring Matters, also identified listening as the #1 attribute of a good mentor.
Here’s what they told us about listening:
- Listening at all levels is the most important thing that I do.
- Listening to others and helping them find their own way.
- Listen with an open mind without being judgmental.
- Truly listen so assumptions are not being made.
- Listen fully and carefully before offering your advice or opinion.
- Spend more time listening than talking.
- Listening and questioning to help my mentee reach their solutions.
- Be authentic, be warm, be honest and be an engaged listener.
- Mentors should know themselves well enough to know when their personal strengths or biases cloud the way they listen to and encourage/advise their mentee.
- Hear what is said in between the message, not just listening to what is said.
- Read, observe, listen and ask lots of questions
There is a clear message here about the importance of listening.
Listening serves many purposes in addition to letting mentees know that you care. Listening builds mentee confidence. It lets mentees know they have something meaningful to contribute. Listening encourages them to work out their thinking. Invariably, they arrive at a solution on their own. Mentors often discover that the listening skills they develop through mentoring transfers to other functions, boosting their effectiveness in their other leadership roles.
What can you do to improve your skill at listening?
- Identify the good listeners you know.
- What do they do that shows they are listening?
Make a list of those behaviors and then gauge how you measure up.
- What do you need to do more of?
- What do you need to do less of?
- What is one thing you can work on right now that will help you develop and hone your listening skills?
Whether you’re a mentor or a mentee, social media is a fantastic tool to amplify your voice and help you join communities. It provides you with the tools to reach out to those who inspire you to develop your career. Luckily, there are many social tools to help you along the way. Let’s look at the benefits of using social media as a mentor or mentee.
Finding a mentor
You could tweet a potential mentor on Twitter or send them a message on LinkedIn. But, convincing someone you’ve never met to be your mentor can be tricky. It’s critical that you know as much as possible about your prospective mentor before you reach out. Fortunately, researching is easy.
On Twitter, you can identify possible mentors by monitoring trending hashtags or creating lists of influential people. And, on LinkedIn, you can join industry-specific groups and build relationships with people you find inspiring.
Connecting with a mentor
Depending on the etiquette of the platform, reaching out to your potential mentor could be easy. On Twitter, it’s as simple as a follow. After you follow your potential mentor, make sure to add their handle to a list so that you can easily find and interact with their content.
On LinkedIn, it’s challenging. You don’t want your budding mentor to see you as spam, so be genuine and sincere. Reach out to them via InMail before you send an invitation to connect. Remember, LinkedIn is a professional platform — avoid the cat videos and silly memes.
When you interact on social media, be yourself. Being honest with potential mentors is the key to building rewarding professional relationships. In our digital world, it’s easy to connect and build professional relationships with people in any industry.
If you have questions, feel free to reach out!