Ingredients For a Successful Mentoring Relationship
We’ve talked before about the challenges that remote working poses for women in the tech space. The coronavirus pandemic has disconnected, isolated, and increased the workload of so many of us (working moms especially!) – but in some ways it’s uncovered better alternatives to face-to-face.
For example, it’s forced professional women to connect in virtual environments, seeking new, creative ways to learn from one another. Virtual mentorship programs are one such outcome, and we think they have significant advantages over in-person programs.
Virtual mentoring has helped many combat loneliness during the pandemic. It’s helped employees achieve a sense of career progression, despite being isolated at home. And it’s given mentors and mentees alike a shared sense of purpose – albeit with the unavoidable twist of ‘real-life’ authenticity as our personal and professional lives have experienced more crossover than ever before.
Let’s look at why virtual mentoring is the way of the future, and how you can get the most from a remote program (like the free Girls in Tech Virtual Mentoring Program).
The upside to remote mentoring
Fewer logistics – Remote mentoring allows you to prioritize relationships built on shared values and goals over shared logistical details. You don’t need to worry about finding a mentor in the same geographical location as you, travelling to meet one another (with associated costs), or taking up too much of your mentor’s valuable time.
Connection – Mentoring promotes deep connection, even when you’re isolated at home. Being at home may even help you more effectively discuss the crossovers between personal and professional. Marianna Tu, CEO of America Needs You, says, “You cannot talk meaningfully about careers without talking about the source of our motivations, about family, and about life’s highs and lows.”
Accessibility – Remote mentoring makes it easier than ever to access professionals from other departments, organizations, industries and countries. Your career status or geographical location doesn’t need to reduce your opportunities. And it may be easier to work with a virtual mentor if you have mobility issues, or by using digital technologies to assist with vision or hearing impairments.
Removal of bias – Virtual mentoring allows you to meet on common ground and “build relationships free from the biases we face in person, when we know another’s height, physical ability, or pregnancy status, to name a few examples” (to quote Marianna Tu again).
Key ingredients to prepare you for remote mentoring
Whether it’s a life partner, a therapist or a tennis partner, we all know the benefits of finding the right person. The same goes for mentoring relationships.
The idea isn’t to be matched with someone who’s essentially ‘you in 10 years’ time’. A good mentorship program should match you with an unbiased, dissimilar person – perhaps not quite the mentor you’d select for yourself. They should be someone who challenges you to ask questions, consider your goals and decisions more deeply, and get out of your comfort zone. This is often a mentor who may share professional experiences with you, but has different personal, lived experiences.
While we’re all usually drawn towards people like us, being matched with a mentor who’s different will provide new perspectives and ways of thinking.
Some mentorship programs focus on the transferral of hard skills, but the Girls in Tech Virtual Mentorship Program aims to connect mentees with people who can inspire their development of soft skills, like:
- Making decisions, and more.
Answering customized questions on sign-up will allow us to match you with suitable mentors for you.
Whether you’ve got your 5-year career plan already laid out on paper, or you’ve never set a goal in your life, goal-setting should be a key part of a mentoring program.
One of your earliest exercises with your mentor will be to set clear goals based on the SMART framework. Having committed to a goal with an accountability person, and putting a follow-up appointment in place, gives you a 95% chance of achieving your goal, according to researchers.
Your mentor will hold you accountable and help you map out a plan towards achieving your goals. Setting goals adds intention to your experience, and shows you’re not just here to ‘meet cool people and learn a few things’ – you’re here to see real progress and improvement in your professional life.
While it’s beneficial to look for certain qualities in a mentor, a positive mentorship also relies on the mentee having the right mindset.
Here’s how you should aim to set yourself up mentally ahead of a mentorship program:
Be open and receptive – Mentors will often offer constructive feedback, suggestions and different perspectives. To get the most from the relationship, you should be open to this input and willing to act on it. Further, you should be willing to ask for help, able to show vulnerability, and open to exploring new avenues.
Be committed to developing – This isn’t just a chance to ramble on about your hopes and dreams. Mentoring is an opportunity to take real action and see positive change in your career. You should be focused on setting clear goals and working towards them. You should be willing to ask questions, seek answers and try new things – even if they seem scary.
Be responsible and accountable – If you say you’re going to do something, follow through on it. Remember, your mentor is making themselves available to support you. They’re investing in your growth, but you need to do your part to see results.
Think you’re ready to dive into a mentorship relationship? Great! Then let’s find you a virtual mentor.
Get a mentor for FREE!
We believe that women in tech have important insights and experiences to share. In a male-dominated industry riddled with diversity issues, we need to support each other where possible. And our virtual mentorship program is a great way for experienced professionals to give back by offering ongoing support, advice and resources.
As a mentee, you’ll commit 15-20 hours over a 4-month period and see real outcomes in your development. And did we mention it’s free of charge?
Here’s how it works:
- Sign up for the program.
- Get matched with a mentor.
- Access a private portal to chat and share files.
- Receive ongoing guidance, goal-setting activities and career resources.
Keep an eye out, registrations open September 16th!