One of the biggest challenges for all relationships in 2015 is that technology has changed the way we communicate with one another, and our expectations of other people, when it comes to communicating. People now expect that others will be easy to reach, at any time, from any platform. When trying to manage a professional relationship, this can be stressful and overwhelming for all people involved.
At Futurpreneur Canada, we pair all our entrepreneurs with business mentors for up to two years, and we’ve seen a shift over the years on how these mentors and mentees manage their relationships. Back when Futurpreneur Canada started (then CYBF), our mentor/mentee relationships were primarily managed through phone and face-to-face communication. Today, we see them connecting through email, cell phones, Skype, and various social media channels. . So how do you manage a professional relationship like that of a mentor/mentee when you have so many ways to connect? I sat down with Kristle Calisto-Tavares, our Mentor-in-Residence to get some tips on how to mentor in the digital age.
1. Use technology as a tool not a substitute
Social media and mobile technology allow for constant contact between a mentor and mentee but do not replace good old fashioned relationship building (phone, face-to-face, etc.) which inevitably takes place outside of a 140 character box. Even though technology can make communication more convenient when you both are leading busy lives, make a point to schedule time and connect in person on a regular basis—not only will it allow for a better conversation, it will also give you a more fulfilling mentoring relationship.
2. Identify and respect boundaries
Online engagement has become a part of our daily lives. We all have preferred platforms that we use for communication and sharing, but we don’t all define the boundaries of that engagement in the same way. Facebook and texting might be a perfect fit for you and your mentoring partner, but don’t assume it. In the initial conversations with your mentor/mentee, determine what modes of communication are best for one another. This conversation should take place before a friend request or text message is sent.
3. Ensure your online self mirrors your offline self
Mentoring partners are encouraged to be authentic with one another in any setting. When inviting technology into the mix, it is especially important that who you are online is aligned with who you are in-person. If there is too much of a discrepancy, it might create distrust or awkwardness in the mentoring relationship.
4. Embrace the impromptu nature of social channels
While there is extraordinary value in planned interactions between a mentor and mentee that include a scheduled meeting and specific agenda, there is also great opportunity in deepening a connection and building a relationship through the real-time informality of other mediums. Don’t be completely shut off to the thought of social media and online channels.
For great resources and tools that can help you in your mentoring relationship, click here.
Written By: Lauren Marinigh, Social Media & Content Creation Coordinator, Futurpreneur Canada in collaboration with Kristle Calisto-Tavares, Mentor-in-Residence, Futurpreneur Canada