For the last 6 months I’ve been privileged to be one of the specialist mentors at E-Spark in Birmingham, which Aardvark Marketing support as part of our Corporate Social Responsibility activities.E-Spark is the world’s largest free business accelerator for early stage and growing ventures. The aim is to develop entrepreneurs who have a #GoDo attitude with a solid grasp of how to create value, which makes them investable. With mentors, ambassadors and supporters, workshops, pitch practice and a full time ‘entrepreneurial enabler’ the focus is on the individual. E-Spark Birmingham is in the Nat West offices in St Philip’s Square. NatWest staff support the new businesses in a very structured manner, which includes ongoing mentoring, introductions to business connections, provision of shared office facilities and access to a wealth of specialist support.
Yesterday morning saw them launch a new event, Meet the Mentors networking, which was a huge success. The networking was an opportunity to get to know many of the business owners at E-Spark who were new to the program. It was great to hear from some of the owners who’d been on the program longer about their successes.
There was time put aside to explore what the characteristics are of a good mentoring session and listen to views of NatWest ‘enablers’, mentees and specialist mentors about the process.
I’d like to share with you the rules of engagement:
1. An approach for advice should be from a mentee business owner who has done some research, clearly defined the issue that they are ‘stuck’ on and provide some background to the enquiry.
2. A mentor should respond with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ about providing advice regarding this issue. If a ‘yes’ the enquiry can be discussed by e-mail, phone all or face to face meeting.
3. The agenda for each meeting should be clearly defined by the mentee.
4. A mentee is expected to be specific about the outcome they are looking to drive.
5. The mentor is required to give honest and open feedback regarding potential solutions or suggested next steps to resolve the issue
6. Mentees need to take ownership of any follow-up actions.
7. The mentor provides ideas and knowledge but is not expected to take actions after the meeting.
8. Mentees should provide feedback to their mentors and business coach
9. Mentees should share stories, opportunities and experiences, keeping in regular contact so that learning can be shared with others in the program
10. E-Spark coaches keep Mentors are kept informed of more opportunities to get involved, given news of success stories and invites to future events.
I look forward to every session at E-Spark – it’s a great experience to be approached by so many new and enthusiastic business owners, all with unique marketing challenges but all sharing a desire to succeed and make the most of the opportunities at E-Spark.
If your business doesn’t currently use mentoring, why not try this as a way of benefitting younger staff who wish to develop their skills and as a rewarding experience for more senior managers?