RESOURCES

How mentor's can facilitate networking

Becoming part of the larger business community requires the entrepreneur to expand his or her existing network. Here are a few ways you can support your mentee’s networking efforts and a few things to avoid.

DO

DON’T

1. Discuss the role of networking in business. The concept of reciprocal relationships that support business growth may be unfamiliar to your mentee. If appropriate, you can encourage your mentee to stretch beyond their existing network of friends, family and caregivers to include new and unknown networks of people.1. Do not pressure your mentee to network. Networking is a skill and needs to be developed. After discussing the role of networking, if appropriate try role playing potential networking scenarios to help your mentee increase their confidence and comfort.
2. Help your mentee identify local business associations or groups that provide networking opportunities. Encourage your mentee to explore these networks and associations for an indication that they are a “good fit” for their business. Offer an opportunity to network together if appropriate. This may begin by simply attending a local business breakfast club meeting or even attending an informal meeting with a single new contact.2. Discuss your mentee’s business with your network without their prior consent. There may be times in the mentoring relationship that your menthe faces a roadblock or obstacle and you know there’s someone in your network that could help. Before involving the third party, discuss the opportunity with your mentee. Gauge their comfort level of bringing in outside expertise. Facilitate an introduction and let your mentee take the lead.
3. Explore how your own network may provide opportunities for your mentee to be connected with the local business community. Consider inviting your mentee to accompany you as a guest to one of your networking events. Search your contacts for potential matches and prepare a letter of introduction to expand your mentee’s business network.3. Become your mentee’s salesforce. When networking remember your role is to support your mentee and not act on their behalf. At times it might be tempting to pitch their business to your network in an attempt to help them succeed. If appropriate, instead look for opportunities that allow your mentee to gain exposure to your network so they can create their own success.