BMNY is Responding to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Impact on New York State Businesses. Find more resources at the Empire State Development homepage.
The MicroMentor platform provides a place for entrepreneurs and volunteer business mentors to create profiles describing their strengths and interests. Entrepreneurs and mentors read each others profiles and then reach out through our messaging platform to start a conversation. These conversations can become long-term mentoring relationships.
What is Business Mentoring?
Business mentoring is a process in which experienced entrepreneurs and business professionals provide council, advice and support to emerging entrepreneurs in a structured relationship. This can take a variety of forms, ranging from helping to organize ideas and providing encouragement to resolving specific technical issues.
What Are the Rules of the Road?
On MicroMentor all mentoring relationships should possess the following qualities:
- Mutual respect, trust and honesty
- A sincere and voluntary interest in business growth
- Clear expectations and well communicated goals
- An agreed-upon timeframe for meetings and a plan for concluding the relationship
- Patience and an open mind
Equally, on MicroMentor, relationships should not possess:
- Solicitation of any kind
- Financial exchange
- Disclosure of confidential information
- Delivery of advice or information that one is unqualified to give
- Unrealistic expectations about what the other party is able to contribute, including deliverables, time commitment and overall timeframe
General Best Practices
Some mentoring principles apply to everyone in the community - mentors and mentees included. Mentoring works best as a collaborative learning partnership, where both parties work on an even ground toward a shared goal. These articles cover the basics of mentoring.
Your First Conversation
The "getting to know you" phase is the most critical stage of the relationship, so don't rush it. Building a trusting relationship requires sufficient time and dedicated effort.
Mentoring Relationships at a Distance
MicroMentor allows people to connect from all over the world. It can be challenging to build a relationship without the benefit of meeting each other in person. That said, distance mentoring can be both fun and productive.
The Qualities of Good Mentoring Relationships
Mentoring requires a proactive approach and an open mind, especially in the beginning of the relationship. It is not complicated, but it requires emotional intelligence. Work on cultivating the following qualities for a successful mentoring relationship.
MicroMentor is an international community of committed entrepreneurs and experienced mentors. To make the most out of MicroMentor, entrepreneurs should put their best foot forward, be prepared to answer tough questions, and take the time needed to follow through on advice given by mentors.
The Essential Steps to Connect and Succeed with a Mentor
1. Make Sure You Are Ready for a Mentor
Getting enthusiasm and buy-in from others is crucial for the success of your business. It’s also critical for your first meeting with your mentor. You want your new mentor to be as excited about your business as you are and confident in its potential for success.
2. Clarify Your Goals
Establishing clear goals is key for helping you discover what you want to achieve out of your new mentoring relationship. It’s a critical step in defining your work with your new mentor and mapping out your efforts moving forward.
3. Share Your Vision and Needs
Your profile shows potential matches who you are, as a business and as an entrepreneur. When writing your profile, think about where you are in your business, and where you would like to be.
4. Reach Out to Mentors
Once you’ve created a strong MicroMentor profile that describes your business and business needs, then it’s time to connect with a mentor.
5. Make the Most of Your Time with Your Mentor
Once you’ve connected with a mentor, it’s time to have a two-way conversation and start working on your business issues. Contributing to the conversation requires listening, understanding, and putting learnings into practice.
1. Share How You Can Help
Your profile is a space to clearly communicate how you can be helpful to entrepreneurs in the community. Here you can list your skills and experience, and also begin sharing your story. By speaking about accomplishments, you demonstrate what you are capable of.
2. Reach Out to Entrepreneurs
Once you’ve created a strong MicroMentor profile that describes your experience and how you can help others, then it’s time to connect with an entrepreneur, which is as easy as sending them a message from their profile.
3. Assess the Entrepreneur's Project
When you first enter into a new mentoring relationship, it can be difficult to know where to begin. You need to be able to assess how your expertise can be best applied. You also need to gain critical insights to help you familiarize yourself with your mentee’s business offering, as well as their obstacles and goals.
4. Propose Mentoring Structure
Structure and goal setting are the foundation of every successful mentoring relationship. While your mentee likely has a general vision for where they want to go, they may not know the actionable steps they should take to get there. They’ll be looking to you to help them clarify and accomplish their goals.
5. Provide Great Feedback
Giving advice is more of an art than a science. You must establish an air of trust and mutual understanding with your mentee, listen well to understand really what feedback will be most beneficial, and let learning grow through the entrepreneur's own experiences over time.
How to Connect with a Mentor
To connect with a mentor, it's important to prepare and make the right first impression. We've outlined the five most important tips to successfully connect with the right mentor and create a relationship that works. Includes a printable preparation worksheet and business model canvas.
Mentoring Best Practices
You have business experience, but mentoring may be new to you. We've got tips on how successful mentors operate. Includes a printable entrepreneur evaluation worksheet.
Communication Best Practices
Mentors and entrepreneurs on MicroMentor are frequently some distance apart—across a country, or across the world! Here are some detailed tips on getting the most out of mentoring at a distance.
Understanding Your Relationship
What can you expect from a mentoring relationship? We've identified four key phases in the mentoring lifecycle, and understanding them can help make your relationship more successful. Includes a printable mentoring roadmap.