Relationships are at the heart of mentoring. Mentors bring experience, insight and generosity which is irreplaceable, but we can make more of these assets with the right tech tools. In fact, combining technology and connections brings value to the whole process at Business Mentors New Zealand. We enhance our decades of experience with a sophisticated database to find each business owner a unique match that can help them grow. When we’ve found your mentoring match, there’s a lot you can do to get the best from it. Here are some ideas of how technology can help.
Embrace more flexibility
Technology means mentoring meetings can happen anywhere, anytime, as long as you have a device and an internet connection. When schedules are packed, virtual meetings cut out the need for travelling, parking and other costs to your time and wallet. Even if one of you is heading out of town, you can keep your schedule with technology.
Of course, meeting virtually is different from being truly face-to-face. Non-verbal cues play a big role in communication. Gestures and facial expressions can be more difficult to detect in the digital world. So, you may need to be more deliberate about how you can keep the ‘chemistry’ and understanding.
For virtual mentoring meetings, consider important things such as lighting, posture and looking the camera ‘in the eye’. And not only when you’re the one talking! Act as though you’re in the room and don’t get distracted or ‘multi-task’. People can tell when they don’t have your attention, even online.
Sometimes, it’s easier to have difficult conversations virtually. Sensitive or difficult issues may be easier to address when people can be somewhere safe and private. Some financial or planning conversations can make people feel vulnerable. To ensure you can be as open as possible, find out what works for each party.
Become closer through technology
When thinking about technology and mentoring, it’s easy to focus only on virtual meeting platforms. Certainly, Zoom, Google Hangouts, Teams and others have proven their value over the last year. However, a text, email or LinkedIn message is not to be overlooked.
If you know someone has something important happening, sending a note is an easy way to show support and strengthen a relationship. Equally, apps such as Messenger or WhatsApp can let you ask a quick question while it’s most relevant.
It's vital to ensure that everyone is clear about expectations and comfort levels for such communications. Business Mentors often gift their time to more than one business owner. Their time is a precious resource that deserves respect.
Encourage and measure progress
Technology can enhance mentoring relationships when you make use of tools for collaboration. Some technology tools are built especially for this. Trello has shared 'boards' that can capture things like to-do lists, project plans or creative ideas. Miro is another visual tool that takes creative collaboration online.
In mentoring, shared documents or calendars can help with planning, seeing and measuring progress in mentoring. If you both contribute to an online agenda, your meetings can become more efficient. Most calendar apps make this easy. Our recent blog has more ideas about how measuring your progress helps you get the most from your mentoring journey.
Do you have any favourite technology tools? After all, learning new tools is one of the benefits of mentoring that people enjoy most. Read our recent case studies to see some inspiring examples.