4 Best Practices for Getting the Most Out of a Virtual Mentoring Platform
Fundraising — 8 min read
Mentoring is an invaluable tool for both personal and professional development — especially in the context of entrepreneurship. Unfortunately, the traditional mentorship model involving regular in-person sessions can be difficult to access in the age of COVID-19 and remote work environments. In addition, finding the right mentor to match your needs can be challenging, especially if you're limited to your immediate professional network.
The good news is that virtual mentoring platforms are becoming increasingly popular, allowing users to connect with all kinds of mentors from all over the world. Let's take a more detailed look at a few of the benefits of virtual mentoring platforms and evaluate some best practices for ensuring successful virtual mentor meetings.
Benefits of Virtual Mentoring Platforms
Entrepreneurs relying on mentors for guidance is not a new idea, but advancements in technology make it possible to get even more out of your relationship with a mentor now than ever before. Virtual mentorship platforms use virtual communication technology to enable entrepreneurs to connect with mentors from practically anywhere in the world. Some of the most promising advantages of virtual mentoring platforms include their exceptional accessibility and versatility.
One of the most obvious advantages of virtual mentoring platforms is how much more accessible they are than traditional, in-person mentoring. A virtual platform allows entrepreneurs to access mentors from anywhere in the world at any time that it's convenient for both parties — often even on short notice. This flexibility allows busy entrepreneurs to fit mentoring into their schedules and get advice quickly whenever they need it.
Virtual mentoring also eliminates geographical barriers, allowing entrepreneurs to connect with mentors who may be located on the other side of the country or even the other side of the world. Moreover, virtual mentoring is often more affordable than traditional in-person mentoring since the whole process is much more streamlined — for example, there are no travel costs associated with virtual mentoring.
Overall, virtual mentoring offers an easier way for entrepreneurs to access knowledge and advice from seasoned experts without the hassle of having to orchestrate and attend physical meetings.
Virtual mentoring platforms are also more versatile than in-person mentoring. A virtual mentoring platform like Mentorcam provides the unique opportunity to connect with a wide variety of potential mentors from a range of different backgrounds. This increased versatility enables entrepreneurs to access advice from a much wider pool of expertise than would normally be available locally.
Many of us rely on the same circle of trusted friends and colleagues for business advice time and again. While it's certainly good to have a reliable circle of support, virtual mentoring presents a valuable opportunity to break out of your immediate network and find exposure to new perspectives that you wouldn't be able to access otherwise.
How to Have More Productive Virtual Mentoring Sessions
Without further ado, let’s dive into the four best ways to get more out of your virtual meetings with mentors:
1. Make Sure Your Mentor Is a Good Match for You
Not every mentor will be the right fit for your needs. Every entrepreneur is different, so it's important to find a mentor who has the experience and expertise to help with your unique goals and the unique needs of your startup.
Additionally, make sure your mentor is someone you get along with and feel comfortable talking to. Creating a business can be a surprisingly personal undertaking, so it's essential your mentor is someone you trust and feel comfortable opening up around.
Start by researching potential mentors who have experience in your industry. Look for people who have been successful with their own ventures and have a track record of accomplishments. Then, reach out to these potential mentors and ask them if they would be willing to mentor you. Virtual mentoring platforms like Mentorcam make it easy to connect with potential mentors with just the click of a button.
Once you’ve found a mentor who seems like a potential match, explain your goals and objectives clearly so they can understand what you’re looking for from a mentor-mentee relationship. Ask lots of questions about the potential mentor’s experience, successes, and failures. This will help you gain insight into their track record and determine whether or not they would be a good fit for your needs.
Identifying a mentor who’s the right fit to support your entrepreneurial journey is easy when you use a virtual platform like Mentorcam. Every mentor on the Mentorcam platform is guaranteed to have the necessary expertise to provide valuable guidance, so all you have to do is locate the mentor who has the specific kind of expertise you need and set up your first meeting.
2. Come Prepared With Smart Questions
You’ll generally get out of your relationship with your mentor what you put into it. With that in mind, it’s very important to take an active role as a mentee and let your mentor know how they can help you best. Come up with a detailed list of questions you want to discuss with your mentor so you always have something concrete to work on. Additionally, write the list down in your phone or on a notecard and bring it to each meeting so you never have to waste any time getting started.
If you truly have no idea where to begin, start by listing your goals for your business. Your mentor will likely be able to help you determine where you should direct your focus to start making progress. A successful virtual mentoring session usually requires a greater degree of organization than a successful in-person meeting does. Any preparation you make time for will probably pay off in the form of a more productive virtual meeting with your mentor.
3. Stay Focused During Meetings
You’ll likely only be able to meet with your mentor periodically, so you should make the most of your time together. Arriving with questions prepared will help you keep your mentoring sessions on track, but you should also take care to stay focused during the meetings themselves in order to maximize your productivity. Here are a few tips to help you remain fully focused:
- Remove distractions like notifications on your phone or other apps on your laptop so you can focus 100% of your attention on the meeting.
- Connect to your session from somewhere quiet so that you can hear your mentor and your mentor can hear you. Ensure you have a strong internet connection so there are no unexpected interruptions.
- Consider structuring an agenda for your meetings so that both you and your mentor know what topics you expect to have time to discuss. This will help keep the conversation on track and remind you both to leave time for everything you want to get to.
- Take notes during your meetings to help you remember important points later. Not only will your note-taking make it easier to remember your mentor’s best advice, but it will also keep you engaged in the information throughout the whole meeting. Taking notes will also allow you to review what you discussed at the end of the session and follow up with any additional questions you have for your mentor.
4. Clarify Benchmarks and Celebrate Wins
In any relationship with a mentor, you should have clear goals to work toward as well as benchmarks for measuring your progress. One of the most important ways mentors provide support is by helping you measure progress toward those benchmarks.
A mentor can help you set realistic expectations for yourself and help you track your progress toward your benchmarks. Your mentor can also give you feedback to indicate which areas you still need to work harder at improving. At all times, it’s crucial to be open and honest with your mentor about what you need from them and how you feel the mentorship is going, as doing so can help them serve as a better guide to move you closer to your goals.
Working with a mentor isn’t only about supporting you when you struggle or fail. Your mentor is also someone who can celebrate your wins with you. Acknowledging and celebrating the results of your hard work is one of the ways a mentor can help you manage your founder’s journey in a healthy, balanced way.
Celebrating your successes is also essential for maintaining your momentum. When you reach an important milestone in your business plan, take a moment with your mentor to appreciate the progress you’ve made — then you’re ready to start striving for the next win.
To make the most of any kind of mentorship opportunity, you should first take the time to find the right mentor who can provide you with the specific kind of advice you need for your startup or business. (Using a virtual platform like Mentorcam makes this step simple.)
You should also come to every mentoring session prepared with relevant questions in order to give your work with your mentor some structure. It's also vital to stay focused during meetings so you can make the most of your time with your mentor.
Finally, it's of the utmost importance to clarify benchmarks so that both you and your mentor know how you'll be measuring success. With your benchmarks clearly in sight, your mentor can easily celebrate with you when you achieve them.
A relationship with a mentor can be a great avenue for entrepreneurs to gain new insights and receive valuable, experienced-based guidance. Virtual mentoring through platforms like Mentorcam represents an exciting evolution of the mentorship model that makes it more accessible and flexible than ever before.