When you look at the typical mentor-mentee relationship, there can be a generational gap. Northwest Arkansas SCORE’s small business counseling programs rely on our older more experienced volunteer mentors. Each mentor is committed to helping local small business owners reach their goals, whether it is teaching the business owners new skills or simply answering questions that often come from younger entrepreneurs.
So, how do you, as a mentor overcome that obstacle when talking to new small business owners? Here are some tips for mentoring across generations.
As many of you know, there is more technology available than ever before. The younger generations use this expansive technology to get results and answers quickly, whereas the older generations are used to a slower, more personal communication. Because each generation communicates differently, it is important to reach an agreement on how you will communicate. Whether you are emailing about a problem or discussing the business over coffee, effective communication is important to any mentor-mentee relationship.
Develop a connection beyond business
Studies have shown that the younger generations learn better when they are taught by relatability. Obviously, you both have an interest in small business, but take your connection further. It is important to learn more about your mentee, whether it is their family life, their educational experiences, or simply their dreams. By connecting on a level beyond business, you are investing in your mentee. This investment will lead mentees to become more engaged to the advice you are giving them.
Extend your professional network to your mentees
Many of the younger generations have been taught that networking is one of the most important aspects of a career. As an experienced and successful businessperson, you have numerous connections. Beyond advising your mentee, make sure to give them access to your business contacts and professional network. Whether you introduce them or simply recommend a contact to reach out to, allowing your mentees access to your network will allow them to grow, both professionally and personally.
Benefits of multi-generational mentoring
While overcoming the gap may take time, numerous benefits to generational mentoring exist. For instance, all of the knowledge and experience that the older generations have is being passed on to keen and excited new small business owners. When mentoring, use the obvious excitement of your mentees to your advantage. They will be excited to learn, and since you have much to offer, do not be afraid to share their enthusiasm.
NWA SCORE is the premier small business counseling and advice organization in the United States. We are a national nonprofit, charitable organization composed of more 13,000 volunteer business mentors, both working and retired, who counsel businesses from nearly 350 counseling offices throughout the country. NWA SCORE serves all of Northwest Arkansas and the surrounding area. To learn more about how to become a SCORE mentor or the mentorship program, visit the website https://northwestarkansas.score.org/volunteer.