Role of Remote Mentoring
The pandemic has transformed the way we work. Many of us have been working from home for nearly a year now, and doing so for a prolonged period comes with challenges. Whether it’s adjusting to remote communications, the feeling of loneliness, or the lack of support when you face challenges in your career or business, we adapt, seek solutions, and thrive.
Interestingly, I’m a strong advocate for remote work despite the known challenges. And 17 million Americans aspire to become nomadic one day. My business, Venturer, helps people work remotely and achieve location independence. I am so used to selling the benefits of remote work and ways you can make money as a digital nomad; Maybe it’s time to talk more about the challenges we face and how we can overcome them through virtual mentorship.
For me, building a virtual connection helps in many ways. I am in the role of being a mentee and mentor, and both have helped me face business challenges and get rid of the feeling of isolation. Here are three best practices to help you succeed in remote mentorship.
When working remotely, it’s easy for us to overwork ourselves when there’s no separation between the work environment and private space. It is reported that people work three hours longer when working from home. Under such an environment, we may easily forget to stay connected with our mentees or mentors.
Setting up a regular meeting is helpful. As a mentee to many successful professionals and entrepreneurs whose schedule is always jam-packed, I found that taking the initiative to set up monthly meetings in advance is a great way to stay connected with them. As a mentor to new entrepreneurs and college students myself, I also work with them to set up regular meetings.
When not possible to meet face-to-face, I like using one of the video conferencing software to do a virtual meetup. Most are free to use and offer a stable connection. It is particularly helpful when you’re having a group mentoring session.
Communicate Expectations and Listen
When having a remote mentoring relationship, it’s essential to manage expectations to avoid being “too proactive” or appeared uninvolved. As mentees, we may be tempted to reach out whenever we face challenges or need help; As mentors, we may worry about not being proactive enough to offer mentees support, but not sure how we can help them better.
To resolve this, mentors can begin defining their roles, and mentees can communicate their needs and goals and invite mentors to help define and prioritize them. Communication of expectations from both parties is helpful to stay organized and know when to reach out.
It is also essential to listen, whether you’re a mentor or mentee. Since many of us are likely to conduct virtual meetings at home, we may easily get distracted when an email notification pops up or when our pet is begging for attention. It’s best to switch off other applications and set up your virtual mentoring space just as how you’ll set up your workspace.
One of the top challenges I face in my mentorship relationships, whether digital or face-to-face, is to remain committed. As a mentor, I noticed that after a few conversations, some mentees become less involved. It might be because I’ve already answered most of their questions, and there’s not much more I can help them at the current stage.
My suggestion for mentees is to stay committed. If your business is going smoothly, that’s great! But don’t forget to update your mentors about it and see if there’s anything you can help with. You may be surprised that you can provide lots of value to your mentors too. I enjoy listening to my mentees’ ventures since I can learn a lot from their stories, and they provide me fresh perspectives.
If you reckon that you’re less engaged in a mentoring relationship, send a message or an email to update them on your status. It does not harm at all to take the initiative to re-engage and maintain a relationship.
Having a remote mentoring relationship can be challenging at first, but it will benefit you tremendously. Establishing a virtual mentorship allows you to connect much more flexibly as it eliminates geographical boundaries. If you’re yet to start a mentoring relationship, consider joining SCORE remote mentoring!
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Funded, in part, through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, and/or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.