Mentor Speed-dating

Business mentoring is not a new concept. The Small Business Bus, for example, has been servicing regional areas with mentor visits since 1986. There are many benefits to mentoring for both the mentee and mentor. For the mentee, they get access to the knowledge of experienced business leaders who have often walked in their shoes and collected invaluable learnings along the way. For the mentors, they get to give back to the next wave of business owners, like their mentors did for them.

However recently there has fatigue in the mentoring space. Mentors are being asked too often to donate their valuable time, and mentees are not valuing the experience as they used to.

MassachusettsInstitute of Technology (MIT) is leading the way in tackling this challenge. They have developed a different approach to mentoring that provides additional value for both mentors and mentees – group-based mentoring through their Venture Mentoring Service (VMS). Unlike how it sounds, it’s not multiple mentees for one mentor, but rather multiple mentors to one mentee. This provides additional value by giving the mentors a community of peers to not only network with but to also learn from. For the mentee, they get three to four times the amount of expertise in the room to help them solve their biggest challenge.

What I love most about the MIT VMS model however is that the mentors not only in part their knowledge, but that the mentee can often receive conflicting advice or information from their mentor group, meaning that they have to digest this information themselves and decide on how they act from there. This building of the entrepreneur’s decision-making capability is a core part of their development as a business leader.

So what on earth does this have to do with Work My Own Way’s Mentor Speed-dating event?

It’s based on that same core principle however we’ve adapted it to be more easily scalable and tailored to account for Gippsland’s vast distance.

In one short evening, mentees will sit down with four to five experienced local business leaders, sharing their biggest challenges and getting many different perspectives on how to solve that problem. They then need to take this learning home and decide themselves where to take their idea and business from there. For the mentors, they get to meet and socialise with other mentors on the evening, widening their network whilst not committing to a long term mentoring engagement.

We’re still experimenting with this new method, however our results so far are looking very positive. If you have any comments or ideas on how we can boost the value of these engagements, then please reach out to us at