05 Oct How to Use Technology to Improve Online Mentoring Connections
Mentoring is about creating an authentic connection between two or more people, it requires deep and meaningful conversation. The concept has been around way before a “like” or “follow” on a social network was considered creating a connection. However, many people feel the virtual world has had a negative impact on mentoring relationships, but it’s actually the opposite.
Technology allows the world to continue when face-to-face interactions are unavailable, it has created more flexibility in workplaces, schools, and society in general. It offers various ways to communicate, (Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype) and to collaborate (Slack, Microsoft Teams, Google). Mentoring has benefited tremendously from this surge of virtual platforms, it has created many opportunities including more flexible meeting times and the availability to connect with those across the state or across the world through a few clicks. Increasing connectivity while decreasing costs by eliminating the need for travel. Even for mentors and mentees who prefer to meet in person, there are times—illness, travel, a packed schedule—when the flexibility of technology ensures the relationship can continue even if an in-person meetup isn’t doable. Here are some ways to take advantage of technology to better your mentoring program.
Advantages of Online Mentoring
Virtual meetings cut down on expansive travel time across the country or to different countries, but it also eliminates time spent commuting. You no longer need to account for rush hour traffic or time spent finding parking. Suddenly your schedule has much more time and you can grab your laptop or answer a call whenever you are. With the majority of the population having more time, it makes mentoring programs more accessible and convenient.
Virtual mentoring makes the program more accessible for participants to get involved in. An increase in those involved in the program can lead to better and more accurate matching. All while opening the program to a larger knowledge and skill base.
Creates Meaningful Matches
Mentors and mentees no longer need to be located in the same office, city, state or even country. The accessibility of virtual meetings allows for people to have more access to a larger variety of participants from a variety of locations and backgrounds. Not only does this cause more accurate and meaningful relationships. This also brings a new level of exposure to ideas and cultures leading to an increase in diversity and innovation of new thoughts and development of the program.
Online Features to Implement into your Program
Video calls and meetings are one of the main reasons virtual mentoring has been so successful lately. It expands networks and allows communication across borders all while eliminating time restraints. Video conferencing can make up for important non-verbal communication that is lost over just a simple phone call. Research has been done proving that real-time video conferencing yields equivalent outcomes to in-person meetings. Encouraging the use of video cameras during meetings allows for body language and facial expressions to be expressed and helps ensure mentors and mentees they’re building strong connections and avoiding miscommunication.
The Best Platforms to Utilize
- Zoom, Google Hangout and Microsoft Team seem to be the most conducive for both video conferences and 1 on 1 meetings
- Facetime and Skype are also options that work really well with mobile devices
Mentors and Mentees when working in the office can pop into each other’s offices and quickly converse during the office hours, while there are typically regularly scheduled meetings between mentors and mentees it is good to keep a constant flow of communication. Online chat helps the two keep a consistent dialogue going and is a good way to stay connected between meetings when you aren’t running into each other in person. Sometimes, especially in unprecedented times, people just need some quick words of encouragement or advice.
The Best Platforms to Utilize
- Simple ways to communicate are through email, texts or the mentoring program platform itself.
- Other programs that are great to implement are Slack, Microsoft Team, Google Hangout or LinkedIn.
eMentorConnect provides mentoring platforms that fit both in person and virtual settings. We want to help you and your organization stay connected and stay motivated. Take advantage of all of the benefits technology has for virtual mentoring!