I’ve long been interested in virtual/distance mentoring. However, I was disappointed to learn that MIT Venture Mentoring Service is very much against; a good friend thinks it won’t work, as she says it’s akin to therapy and needs to be done F2F; and an MIT VMS trained university tried it and failed.
However, due to my idiopathic peripheral neuropathy driving is painful, so I avoid it as much as possible. This obviously cuts down on my mobility. So I’d like to be able to do more mentoring from home.
I met a budding social entrepreneur at SIF and volunteered to help her out.
We scheduled a Skype call, and aside from the fact I had to deal with Microsoft changing my login procedure and my need to better aim my iMac camera, it worked well. My mentee had so such problems and her face and voice came across loud and clear immediately. (In fact I prefer Skype calls to cellular – the call quality is the best I’ve experienced, better than bandwidth limited landlines and much better than I get from Verizon on my iPhone.
This turned out to be a document-free chat, which went very well. But obviously it was the simplest case, no PowerPoint to review, no demo to watch, only one person to mentor.
So it remains to be seen how well this will work with documents or with more than one mentee. But I’ve had Skype calls with three or four people that worked out well.
I believe that virtual mentoring is not only possible, but inevitable, as the technology improves and access to mentors around the world becomes the new normal. I can’t wait!