Mentoring programs are becoming one of the biggest trends for many types of businesses.
Don’t believe us? Well, according to Investopedia, 71% of Fortune 500 companies offer a mentoring program. Some of these top companies include Google, General Electric, Intel, and many more.
In addition, 75% of private sector executives state that mentors mentoring programs have been crucial to their own career advancement. Even top tier executives have sought out advice through a mentoring program.
At this point, it’s apparent that businesses are seeing the benefits of having a mentoring program. But how can mentoring programs work for your association and its members?
Many associations have already taken to the advantages that mentoring programs provide.
In fact, in 2015 Nourse Leadership Strategies conducted a study that followed eight associations with mentorship programs already in place. Some of the studied associations had two mentorship programs in place- talk about doubling your chances of success!
So, is your association warming up to the idea of mentoring programs? Are you looking to start offering mentoring to your members, but don’t know where to start?
First, let’s cover some of the basics of starting a mentoring program for associations. Then, we can look at some associations that have already seen success in offering mentoring programs to their members.
If your association is looking for tips on how to offer mentoring programs, here’s what you should know.
1. Start with research.
Before your association starts any kind of new project or program, you should always do some research.
You wouldn’t blindly jump into a business investment, right? Think of a mentoring program the same way. You’re looking to invest time and funding into a new program to enhance your association and create opportunity for its members. With any new investment, research is required.
Researching your members is a great place to start.
Do you know what your members look for in your association? What about their career struggles? What are some problems they face that could be helped with a mentoring program?
You should also know what your members are looking for in a mentor.
For example, maybe your members look up to a specific trait in a mentor. Would they prefer a mentor that’s high up in their career, or one who has specific character traits? It’s important to know what qualities to look for in a mentor.
You can conduct research by holding discussion group or sending out surveys to your members. Make sure you allow members to be open and honest about what they want out of your association’s mentoring opportunities.
Once you know what your members are looking for, you can start to create programs around their needs.
2. Appeal to young members.
Did you know Millennials actually seek out mentoring programs when they look for career advancement opportunities? It’s true.
According to Deloitte, Millennials look for mentoring programs within their employer. In fact, among Millennials leaving their employer within 2 years of work, 61% were happy with the mentoring they received.
In addition, 79% of Millennials believe that mentorship programs are critical to their personal career success. That’s right, over three quarters of Millennials surveyed believe in the value of effective mentorship.
If your association has struggled in the past with attracting a younger audience, a mentorship program could be the key to unlocking Millennial engagement.
Create a specific marketing strategy that tailors to your younger audience. For example, create email campaigns that highlight your mentorship options and the benefits of a mentoring program. You want audiences to know about this great opportunity in order to engage with your association further.
You can also include your mentorship program offers into your member recruitment strategy. Encourage your younger members to spread the word about your program to others through word-of-mouth marketing or even social media.
The Millennial attraction is one great reason for your association to say yes to a mentorship program.
3. Choose your mentors wisely.
If you’re going to create a mentorship, you have to have a team of great mentors.
A great way to seek out mentors for your program is to recruit mentors right from your association.
Think about why your association has these team members on board. They’re incredibly smart, with years of experience in a specific industry to bring to the table. It makes perfect sense to include them in a mentorship position.
Seek out your association’s top team leaders or even your best board members as your mentorship team. Your association’s team can benefit from being a mentor as much as your members will benefit from their mentorship.
Another great way to seek out mentors is to create a mentor application.
Offering a mentor application isn’t just a great way to seek out qualified mentors. It’s also a way to get members engaged with your association. If you’ve had trouble keeping long-time members engaged, inviting them to become a mentor might do the trick.
Their mentor application requires eligibility, which might be a good idea to incorporate into your association’s own mentor application. Their mentors must be members of the association for three years or more. They should also be well acquainted with the association.
They’re not the only association with an application process either.
Another great example comes from the Michigan Library Association (MLA). Their mentor application is more extensive, with a number of great questions for those looking to become mentors. MLA asks all the right questions to find only the best mentor options.
Whatever method you choose, just make sure your association has a way to curate amazing mentors for your mentoring programs.
4. Create a matching method.
You’ve got a great group of mentors, and members are interested in your program. So, how do you start the mentoring process?
As an association in charge of its mentoring program, it’s up to you to determine a method to match up mentors with their respective mentees. But what’s the best way to do this?
The Association for Slavic, East European, & Eurasian Studies (ASEEES) leaves their mentor matching up to their own mentor committee.
ASEEES established a mentor committee in 2014 to delegate for the mentor program. One of those responsibilities include mentor matching.
Your association can take a similar approach and establish a mentor committee in order to match mentors up with mentees. Select top board members or mentor applicants to delegate to your mentors and mentees.
Or, if you’d like to try a different method for mentor matching, you can always let your members decide.
“The mentoring platform is user-driven, allowing registered mentees to search among registered mentors using specified criteria to find individuals whose experience and expertise match areas in which they wish to be mentored. Likewise, registered mentors can search for and identify potential mentees.”
Your association can follow the same type of plan and allow mentors and mentees to find each other on their own terms.
Create a forum for members in your mentoring program to meet, talk, and match up for a mentorship experience. Then, make sure mentors and mentees are regularly communicating and have a mutually beneficial relationship with one another.
Providing a mentoring program for your association’s members is a great way to increase engagement and attract a new audience.
Try using some (or all!) of these tips when creating your association’s mentorship programs.