At a recent Ottawa SAGE Mentor Think Tank, we gathered entrepreneurs and mentors and held an entrepreneur “tell-all” which included an unpacking of tips and tricks for a successful mentoring relationship from the entrepreneurs’ perspectives.
We learned it pays to sweat the small stuff. Here’s what entrepreneurs had to say:
Location, location, location. It plays a big factor in the consistency and frequency of mentoring meetings. According to two entrepreneurs who own retail businesses, the consistency and frequency increased with their mentors’ availability to meet them onsite either during or after retail business hours. Although we have learned that face-to-face meetings are most effective, if scheduling meetings becomes the barrier to regular communication, consider virtual mentoring as an alternative during those tough-to-meet times.
Have your own ducks in a row. It may go without saying, but have you asked yourself, “Am I prepared to be a mentor?” As well as, “Is my career/business in a stable place to allow for time and space to support and assist an entrepreneur through the ups and downs of entrepreneurship?” If you are experiencing much change and transition in your own life – whether it is career, family, or business related – the adage, “Put your own oxygen mask on first and then assist others,” applies here.
A “way to go” email contributes to relationship staying power. A short motivational email can go a long way. Entrepreneurs at the Ottawa “tell-all” stressed how important it is for mentors to learn what drives their entrepreneur. What makes your entrepreneur tick? When entrepreneurs find themselves in down times, here’s your opportunity to step into your supportive mentor role by sending a short email, leaving an inspiring message, or boosting social media support for your entrepreneur – do what you can to show you’re in this mentoring relationship together.
Just as in any relationship, sweating the small stuff and showing your support in little ways can have positive lasting effects. Keep these tips top of mind to optimize your mentoring relationship; they are oldies but goodies.
By Linda Morana, Mentor-in-Residence, firstname.lastname@example.org