How to Mentor at a Distance

Business Mentor NY allows people to connect with entrepreneurs and business mentors from all over New York State. 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.

Here are five ways to make distance mentoring more effective:

  1. Allow time to build the relationship: Distance relationships tend to grow at a slower pace than face-to-face relationships. Without meeting in person, it can take more effort to get comfortable and build trust. Be patient but consistent as you establish expectations in your new mentoring relationship.
  2. Plan ahead: Schedule mentoring meetings in advance. Avoid canceling a meeting unless there is an emergency, and reschedule immediately if necessary. Consider creating and sharing an agenda in advance, making sure to start and end on time, and summarizing the discussion and agreements before ending the meeting.
  3. Listen actively and avoid interruptions: If your mentoring meetings will be on the phone, active listening is especially important. Sharpen your sensitivity to subtle changes in tone of voice and pace of speech. To avoid misinterpreting each other, frequently check to ensure that you're in agreement. Eliminate distractions by turning away from your computer and preventing interruptions from co-workers. During your phone calls, give them your complete focus.
  4. Use technology for better communication: Video chat solutions like Skype and Google Hangouts allow you to develop a more personal connection. Vary your communication styles to see what style works best for the relationship.
  5. Rely more on writing to clarify details not understood in conversation: Whether due to internet connection or language barrier, some finer points won’t remain crystal clear at the end of the conversation. This is where a follow-up by e-mail is extra important – shoot a note to recap what you took away from the meeting, and make sure the entrepreneur is on the same page as you.