Before the Internet and the advent of mentoring software, it was difficult to connect people from different parts of the world in truly meaningful mentoring relationships. Now organizations can optimize learning without the constraint of geography. Administrators and participants need to be thoughtful about these long distance relationships to ensure maximum success.
Distance Mentoring enables your employees to learn from someone working at headquarters, in the field or in a function at another site domestically or globally. It allows alumni to connect from locations all over the world. This blog gives tips on how to be successful in a long distance mentoring relationship.
Make a Special Effort to Connect and Build Trust over Distance
- Pay particular attention to confidentiality to establish clear guidelines about how and if any communication is to be shared outside of the mentoring partnership.
- Share a biography of your careers at an early meeting.
- Find ways to connect on a personal level, i.e. discuss interests and career goals.
Know How to Communicate Effectively at a Distance
- Maximize use of Skype or another web tool so you can see the person with whom you are speaking. This is an effective way to form a more personal connection with your mentoring partner.
- When you cannot see facial expressions or body language, listen carefully to voice tone, silences and non-word sounds such as laughs, sighs, uh-huh or ooh.
- Meet regularly by phone or Skype, schedule meetings in teleconferencing rooms, if possible, send email, text or instant messaging to schedule or share information between meetings.
- Share ideas to build trust and rapport as mentoring partners.
We are lucky to live in a time when it takes seconds to communicate with someone from around the globe and we can have virtual meetings that feel like the person is right in the same room. As with most things, technology has made it easier to match people from all around the world and has also made it easier for those people to connect. As you make these global connections, just make sure you understand the differences it introduces and proactively develop a plan to ensure it is a successful and meaningful relationship.