The definition of mentor is pretty clear:
mentor |ˈmenˌtôrˈmenˌtər| noun an experienced and trusted adviser: he was her friend and mentor until his death in 1915.• an experienced person in a company, college, or school who trains and counsels new employees or students.
However, the key word is trusted. Usually trust is earned and maintained either through a relationship or by being conferred by another trusted person.
However, what LinkedIn and now Facebook, are doing is simply a matching and Q & A service to help members get answers to questions about their career development.
A great deal of mentoring is focused on two areas: development of youth, often underprivileged youth, and development of the careers of corporate employees. The third form, which I focus on here at Mentorphile is the mentoring of entrepreneurs, who are by definition not working their way up the corporate ladder, nor are they youth who have a few years to go before entering the workforce.
However, I am interested in virtual mentoring and believe it can work in the right circumstances. Here’s how Facebook’s mentoring may work according to the TechCrunch article Facebook is testing a feature for mentorships between users by Ingrid Lunden:
It appears that the app matches a mentee’s interests up with those of the mentor’s, and by way of introduction, gives them a list of points they have in common, including friends, education, geographic location and — most importantly — profession:
But a Facebook connection may not really be someone you really trust, whether it’s with issues surrounding your career or your startup. Can you build up trust with someone you have only met online? It seems that some people do.
As Ingrid Lunden writes, Facebook seems motivated to find another way to add members.
The third reason this makes sense relates to a more general trend at Facebook itself. As the company matures and we reach our fill of reconnecting with people we knew in college and high school, jobs and current social lives, Facebook has been on the hunt for more ways of leveraging its social network, and building even more connections across it (beyond actual friends) to boost engagement.
So if you are a Facebook user, and who isn’t besides myself and a few other senior citizens, check out Facebook’s mentoring feature if it appeals to you. And if you want to advance your career certainly check out LinkedIn’s mentoring as well.
But if you are an entrepreneur looking for a mentor, neither service will be of much help. But there are some posts on Mentorphile like How to find a mentor as an entrepreneur you might find helpful. Here’s the link to several other Mentorphile posts on finding a mentor.
In the meantime I’ll be watching the mentoring programs on LinkedIn and Facebook to see what, if anything, I can learn that might be helpful in the virtual mentoring of entrepreneurs.