Mentoring – are you up for it?

by Penny Power on April 12, 2012 · 1 comment

 

I just came off the phone following a random conversation from a person I don’t know.  It was created due to noticing a desperate status update that I read on FaceBook where she was stating how hard life was as a single mum with 4 young children and how much she wanted to start her own business.

 

For some reason we were connected to FaceBook, we were already ‘friends’, her status came past me as I checked the news feeds from my network. I commented on her update saying “sending love sounds like a challenging time for you” and she immediately replied “can I speak to you, you could be the answer to my prayers”.

I called her, amazingly she was happy to give me her phone number publically. As she answered the phone I could hear screaming children in the background, we had a 15-minute chat, it was not the easiest. I learned that she is in social housing and has just committed to coming off Benefit as she has a great idea for a new business and desperately wants to have the right mindset to make it happen. As I have learned from many people I have mentored, being on Benefit is too much of a safety net, but it is very brave to come off it.

Like many thousands of people in Britain, her business idea is a good one, a big vision, a determined lady. I asked her how far she has got and she said not far at all, she doesn’t know how to write a one-page business plan, as requested by the people she has asked for help. She doesn’t know how to create a website, like most people I expect, she is connected on FaceBook, but that doesn’t seem to help her ‘get things done’ and she is stuck.

I asked her if she networked offline, she replied “when can I do that, I have 2 pre-school children, who would look after them?”. I asked her if she had created a list of things to achieve each day, she replied “no, I just find it so hard to do this around the kids”.

I explained that I too had started a business when my kids were 5, 3 and 6 months old; she asked me if I was also a single mum, I replied “no”. But I did tell her I worked through the night for the first 3 years as that was the only way to get my work achieved.

The Coalition Government wants to help citizens that face these barriers. There are a few schemes that they have set up to assist. I told her about them and sent links to her FaceBook. The new Enterprise Allowance Scheme is set up to help start-ups create business plans and can give up to a £1000 loan. http://www.dwp.gov.uk/adviser/updates/new-enterprise-allowance/ and the Mentoring Portal, created to match Volunteer Mentors to people who need help http://www.mentorsme.co.uk/

I guess the issue is complicated and multi faceted and we all have our opinions on this, I believe mentoring would help this lady a great deal. I have become one of the Government’s Ambassadors for their mentoring program. http://blogs.bis.gov.uk/blog/2012/03/16/forget-the-stiff-upper-lip-ask-for-a-mentor/ and I personally run a peer to peer mentoring group for the Mastermind Agency for women http://www.themastermindagency.co.uk/category/experts/

I believe the best networkers are those who inadvertently mentor other people, connecting them to knowledge and people without realising the impact of their actions. Mentoring can be a daily activity if we spot people in need; it can take a few minutes to help others and yet can have an impact on the person receiving the help far beyond the time given.

I know the BNI members are some of the most giving people in business. ‘Givers Gain’ is the mantra you all hold close to your hearts, so perhaps you could take a look at the MentorSME website and lend a hand, or better still, look for those random moments when you can lend a hand online, they certainly make a difference to everyone, especially as you close your eyes at the end of the day.

Penny has just accepted a role as Ambassador for the Governments Mentoring Initiative, promoting the importance of Mentoring and encouraging People to visit www.mentorsme.co.uk and search for a Mentor or volunteer to be one.

Penny Power
Penny Power is the Founder of Ecademy and Digital Youth Academy, two communities that assist in the growth of Social Capital and deliver the promise of the Internet through their community values and peer to peer knowledge exchange. Penny is now focusing on the skills gap that exists within the business community toward leveraging the social digital world and you can follow her on Twitter @pennypower or sign up for her newsletter on www.pennypower.co.uk

 

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Glen Cooper April 15, 2012 at 18:10

Great post Penny. Enjoyed reading it.

I too find myself unofficially ‘mentoring’ people who I meet through work, play and of course my social group too. It’s just great to pass on the knowledge that I have learned.

I write blog for engineers too. I touch on engineering start-ups and so far our blog is gathering momentum.

Good with your Ambassador role, I’m sure it will be a great success :-)

Glen

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