Mentoring Vs Networking

It has recently come to my attention that there may be some confusion between mentoring and networking. It was stated that both mentoring and networking is about sharing so in reality isn’t networking the same as mentoring. My response to this was no.

In fact, they are distinctively different. When you network, you are getting to know people as well as allowing other people to get to know you. You are also networking to get your name out there and portray yourself as an expert in your chosen field. Mentoring on the other hand is about taking somebody by the hand and actually guiding them, whether it be for business or personal.

Granted, when you are networking you are essentially helping because people are reading your posts, blogs or articles to learn something. They read what you have written and then that’s the end of it. They may become clients or they may provide referrals to your business but that is as far as it goes. Mentoring is actually step by step guidance. Mentoring is about one-on-one assistance not group assistance. Mentoring is about helping and not expecting monetary gain or anything but hard work and dedication from your mentee.

People have stated that mentoring takes too much time and that mentoring is for those who have the money just flowing in and they can afford to take time out of their busy days to mentor but in reality that is not true. Many people mentor even when they don’t have the money flowing in. Why is that? Mentoring means providing somebody with the knowledge that you have gained from the school of hard knocks-knowledge that you can give to somebody to help them over the roadblocks that they may run into with their business. While mentoring may take some time, you are building an awesome referral resource, potential future clients, and giving yourself the ability to know that you actually helped somebody in their life without getting anything in return. That is something that is lacking in this day and age.

Mentoring can be a tough and time-consuming job but it is well worth it with what you receive in friendship and possibly even business. However, the mentee has to be willing to take the time and learn and put some of the mentor’s ideas into play. If the mentee is not willing to do that, then the mentor is really just wasting their time.

I have had several people contact me for help with starting a virtual assistant business and I am happy to provide assistance and guidance to them but they have to be willing to work at it as well. Too many times, I get contacted and provide ideas and then they ask if they can come to me with questions and I always say yes, then they come back with a couple of more questions but realize that starting a VA business is much more work than they anticipated so they walk away. Essentially, I am trying to help my competition but you know what, that’s fine. Will I give away my trade secrets? Not usually but I will help them when they need it. If I don’t help them and they get stuck, then they very well may become one of the bad virtual assistants that I have spoken about in previous articles and that can do some major damage to the industry. So if I can help somebody become a good virtual assistant then I am all for it.

Usually you don’t HAVE to screen the people you help. Usually they screen themselves. Once in a while you get someone who is a sucking drain, and you just stop giving detailed replies, instead you give web references or instructions to Google this term or that one. But usually, they decide – and simply wander away when it is too much, and they do that early enough on that you don’t waste your time replying to a lot of stuff just to lose them. VERY few get past the third or fourth email. Those that do are SO worth working with

Mentoring can be extremely rewarding as well. Think of it this way, when you raise children you are essentially a mentor to them. Once you have nurtured, raised, loved, and taken care of a child and they go out into the world and accomplish something, doesn’t that make you feel proud, wonderful and realize that every trial, tribulation and heartache that you endured was well worth it? That is exactly the kind of feeling you will get when you mentor somebody and you see their business reach the point of success and know that you had a part in that.

One thing that totally drives me crazy that I have seen people do is call themselves mentors when in reality they are just coaches because they are expecting something in return, usually monetary. Because of that, mentoring has lost all meaning. Now when somebody offers to be a mentor, you have to think about what they mean. Do they mean an actual mentor or a coach?

So just remember when you have somebody who just needs you to listen to them and take them by the hand and guide them, don’t walk away. Help them but be sure they are willing to be helped and not have the work done for them. Mentoring is another type of that saying “Pay It Forward”. We all need to get back into paying it forward and thinking of others’ needs and not just our own.

Source by Tracy Collins

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