5 Things to Look for in a Virtual Mentor [Black Enterprise]

Black Enterprise Columnist Marshawn Evans tells how to expand your options with a ‘virtual’ network. View the original post here.

virtual mentors to help advance your career

Most professionals desire access to a quality mentor whom they can learn from and emulate. But what makes a good mentor? According to media mogul Oprah Winfrey, “a mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.” I wholeheartedly agree!

Now, you might think that your boss should be the one to help you with this magnificent discovery and help you get from point A to point B; but it doesn’t always work like that! As I discussed in my previous column (“The Problem with Traditional Mentoring“), securing a mentor can be challenge…until now.

You can either wait for someone to take an interest in you, or you can be proactive and take an interest in others who are already interested in helping you–someone like a virtual mentor.

Virtual mentoring is essentially distance coaching that takes place online, during group tele-seminars and one-on-one coaching via the telephone, or on social media. Your virtual mentor can be an expert (which I highly recommend) who has dedicated his or her career to mastering a subject or skill and then teaching others how to do the same. Alternatively, your virtual mentor may not be a formal business coach. Instead, he or she could be a professional who is an industry leader or someone whose career path and success you admire.

Clearly, the Internet makes accessing information easier than ever before. Now that we live an interactive, web 2.0 world, we can do more than just access information, we can engage it and interact with it before we apply it.

This is extremely significant for executives (and entrepreneurs) alike – although I don’t think most realize it. You see, now you can gain direct access to a person or community of thought leaders that are committed to your development. And, trust me, you need someone who is a dedicated to making sure you win in the marketplace. You need a virtual mentor, but you need the right one.

Here the top 5 things you should look for in a virtual mentor.

  1. Proven Expertise. You want to make sure that the person you are looking to has been where you want to go. Otherwise, you will likely waste your time following someone who is essentially incapable of effectively guiding and leading you.
  2. Proven Ability. Having business acumen does not necessarily mean you can teach it! Too many professionals look to people who are successful, but poor teachers. A great mentor is a great teacher. Search for someone who has the proven ability to teach and get results in helping others grow.
  3. Genuine Concern. The problem with having a traditional mentor randomly assigned to you is that the mentor may or may not have a sincere interest in developing you. The success rates of “assigned” mentors are pitifully low. In looking for a virtual mentor, you get to pick who YOU want. You can search for subject matter experts who have a genuine passion about developing you.
  4. Frequency. When selecting a virtual mentor, assess how frequently the individual provides content and information. You should be able to “test-drive” the virtual mentor with little or no investment. I recommend you treat it like a trial period where you can assess the frequency and quality of information shared. For example, when someone joins my network, they are able to connect with me via a weekly newsletter, read my book (which has tons on advice), or by keeping up with me on Twitter or Facebook. In this capacity, I get to virtually mentor thousands of people everyday. Information provided by any virtual mentor should be easily and readily accessible.
  5. Selectivity. Make sure that the virtual mentor you are evaluating is selective and focused in the material they choose to cover. Be very wary of generalists – a person who claims to be an expert in everything! Further, you need to be selective, too. The downside of the Internet is there can be too much information, which can make it challenging for you to stay focused. Confused people do nothing! So, make sure that you avoid information overload, which is a common by-product of listening to too many people. Find the expert that resonates well with you and stick with that person.

Remember, what you listen to ultimately leads you. Listening to the right virtual mentor (or mentors) is key to moving in the right direction.

In the next installment, I will share some advice on how to develop a relationship with a virtual mentor who is not a professional business coach. In the interim, share with me your thoughts.

What criteria would you add to the list? Do you think there any downsides to virtual mentoring? Leave your comments below!

I look forward to hearing from you.

MarshawnEvansMarshawn Evans, Esq., is a weekly career columnist for BlackEnterprise.comShe is President of ME Unlimited LLC, a peak performance agency, and is Founder of ME University® – the industry’s premier resource for profitable brand strategy. She is author of the bestselling bookSKIRTS in the Boardroom: A Woman’s Survival Guide to Success in Business & Life (2008). Connect with her online at www.marshawnevans.com, on Twitter at @marshawnevans and on Facebook at ME Unlimited by Marshawn Evans.

Have a question for Marshawn? Continue the conversation on her BE INSIDER NING page at beinsider.ning.com/MarshawnEvans.


Paul Carrick Brunson’s Tips for Choosing Your Mentor

View the original post on DesireeMMondesir.com!


Recently, I had the opportunity to participate in my first #MentorMonday hosted by none other than Mr. Paul Carrick Brunson! It was a power-packed hour of wisdom, fun, and interaction with other like-minded individuals. If you missed it, you can watch the Spreecast playback here.

In this #MentorMonday session, I was able to come on screen and meet my new friend Paul and ask him my question! This was my [paraphrased] query.

I had an individual that I do NOT know approach me on Facebook to mentor me. He had me sign up for an appointment which—unbeknownst to me—turned into a coaching session. This is VERY awkward. How do I deal with this??

After sharing some laughs about this individual being kinda creepy Paul went ahead to share some tips on how to actually select a mentor. Here they are!

3 Tips for Choosing a Mentor:

1) Choose a Mentor Whose Values Align with Yours.

This is personally my number one. Mentors I subscribe to share my values and spiritual beliefs. I find it difficult to connect fully with individuals whose spiritual values differ from mine.

This is also a tip that can go across the board for selecting friends, love interests, etc.

Can two walk together unless they are agreed? (Amos 3:3)

Think about it: if prayer and faith make up your belief system, then can you truthfully select a mentor who’s willing to cut corners and cheat to “succeed” in business and life? I think not.

2) Choose a Mentor Who Walks the Walk.

If you’re like me, then you’ve been approached by many who CLAIM to be “experts” in their fields. Now I believe just like the next person in constructive embellishment. However, there is a distinct difference between embellishing and lying. And honestly, you don’t want a mentor who needs to embellish: they are what they are and their fruit (i.e. clients, financial revenue, proven wisdom, etc.) reflects that.

Choose the mentor that practices what they preach. Period.

3) Choose a Mentor Who is Accessible.

Paul gave an excellent example of accessibility. If President Barack Obama offers to mentor me, that’s a lovely thought on his part, but it’s not realistic. When would the POTUS and most influential individual in the world have time to mentor anyone?? That’s a very lovely pipe-dream. Maybe we could talk when his term is up?

Choose a mentor who is readily available to you: they actually respond to your emails, they call you back, they make time for you. As wise and helpful as the person may be, if they don’t have time for you—or won’t make time for you—then they are not the right mentor for you.

BONUS TIP: You select your mentor, not the other way around.

If an individual approaches you (especially the way I was approached), that person more often than not, has an agenda not conducive to your destiny.

Only you can select your mentor because you know what you are looking for. If you follow these criteria and pray about it, then you are sure to meet the right mentors for your life!

Starting searching for the right mentor today!

PictureIf you want Paul to mentor you, sign up for his next #MentorMonday event!  You can also visit his website, follow him on Twitter, “like” him on Facebook, and check out his Youtube channel!

Visit Paul’s Website!

Buy His Book: It’s Complicated (But Doesn’t Have to Be)!

Like Paul on Facebook!

Follow Paul on Twitter @PaulCBrunson!

Subscribe to Paul’s Youtube Channel!

Finding Your Niche (The Birth of BCBG)

5-black-business-women-under-30When I first considered creating and launching BCBG, I did not set out to be as specific in my niche as I now am.

I’d read a great LearnVest article on stiletto clubs and decided that I wanted to create one for Christian businesswomen. I thought that would be specific enough. So I started inquiring.

I utilized LinkedIn and Facebook to message all the Christian businesswomen I could to see who would be interested in such a group and then I made an interesting discovery: the vast majority of the women who responded were black. In fact, over 80%!

It would seem that without even trying, my niche carved its own self out and I knew what I had to do.

At the risk of offending and excluding the lovely non-black women who were interested in this new venture, I new I had to forge ahead with my new specialized demographic: black Christian businesswomen. Hence the name: Black Christian Businesswomen Group a.k.a BCBG and who doesn’t love some BCBGs??

You ladies can also learn from this lesson. Specialize, specialize, specialize!! Carve out that niche and let the data speak for itself! Find the need and meet it!

The only way you will succeed in business is by finding a specific need and meeting it.

So now here we are, specialized, engines raring, and ready to go! Will you take the journey with me as I launch BCBG??

Register for our mailing list today!!