This is a series of posts on how to create your own personalized mentoring program. In the first instalment, we looked at how to determine your mentoring needs, and in the second we looked at a variety of mentoring models and asked you to make note of the ones that would work in your situation. To create your personalized mentoring program, you have to understand your needs and know what your options are before you can move forward.
In this the final instalment we will help you to pull things together. This may sound surprising to you, but two major reasons why mentoring programs fail are improper fit between mentors and protégés and the upfront work was not done initially.
Refer back to Adventures in Learning: DIY Mentoring Program, Episode One, where we had a needs assessment to understand what your mentoring needs are. Look at the ideal mentors that you chose, do their values align with yours? If you entered into a mentoring relationship with any of them, would it get you closer to fulfilling your life mission and goals? Every action you take should lead you to where you want to end up in life. Think about that for a few seconds.
In Adventures in Learning: DIY Mentoring Program, Episode Two, if you decided that any of the mentoring programs which involved groups such as peer-mentoring and mentoring circle would work for your situation, it’s important that the leader of the group has excellent facilitation skills. Every effective group when first started, went through developmental stages before the group members ultimately gel. Sufficient time has to be allotted for group members to get to know each other. Years ago before I have the experience I now have, when I led/chaired a meeting, I was very aware of time and quickly got down to business without giving the group members enough time for check in. Today, I would never operate that way, because when people get to know each other, it builds trust and the likelihood for cliques forming is reduced.
Now that we have gotten over those two major hurdles, the other big issue is how to contact people. Before you contact anyone, asking them if they would mentor you, or be a part of a mentoring circle or even a peer-to-peer group, spend some time getting to know them first before you start a conversation. Read their status updates on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. On their LinkedIn profile, try to find a point of interest that you have in common with them. Did you attend the same university, share a past employer, are both members of the same LinkedIn Group, support the same non-profit? If we take the time to conduct a little upfront research you’ll be amazed by how much you have in common with others. Comment on their updates, and start the conversation to build a relationship.
After you have gathered your intelligence, and started to build a relationship, raise the topic of mentoring. Because they know you, they are more likely to respond to you in a positive manner. Always be honest with your requests and let people know exactly what you are asking of them. Give them an out, so they can graciously turn you down if they do not believe the right fit is there. The more time you take in selecting potential ideal mentors, the more likely you would have made a good choice. Adventures in Learning: DIY Mentoring Program, Episode One is a critical stage.
For senior level executives, when contacting them, I have had a lot of luck using email, or sending a letter by snail mail or courier. To be really successful in creating your personalized mentoring program, it’s essential that you build and nurture your networks. When you have a wide and deep network, you have more options from which to get people for your mentoring groups. When you interact with people in your networks, you will discover whose values align with yours.
When I started the series, I mentioned that I was thinking of writing a DIY Mentoring Program for the Amazon Kindle. I have written Episode One and Episode Two and have uploaded them. I have added more information, and the Mentoring Needs Assessment is more in-depth. Writing the blog posts have helped me to clarify what I wanted to say, and set the tone for the content. I will be writing the last instalment for the Kindle in the next few days.
You have the capacity to create your own customized mentoring program, but you have to know what your needs are, the options that are open to you, and start building relationships with the people who can get you where you want to go before you consider contacting them.
How can you use this information? What do you have to add to the conversation? Let’s keep the conversation flowing, please let me know your thoughts in the comments section below. Many readers read this blog from other sites, so why don’t you pop over to The Invisible Mentor and subscribe (top on the right hand side) by email or RSS Feed.
Get the Mentoring Equation Right, Whitney Johnson
Lessons from Successful Networkers, Bill Barnett