Editors Note: In this column Gail Manza and Susan Patrick draw from their new book Mentor’s Field Guide, which is framed as a series of 67 answers to the most common questions that arise in youth mentoring.
Question #13: I want to connect with other mentors. How do I do that?
First, follow your impulse to connect with other mentors. Doing so is important, and it is almost always rewarding. According to MENTOR, when mentors and potential mentors are asked, they invariably say they rely on other mentors—especially more experienced mentors—when they want to think through an issue or get advice about a specific challenge or need that arises in their mentoring relationship.
We view other mentors as one of three sources of support and advice that can be very useful to you as you embark on a mentoring relationship and move through it. Two others are a mentoring program coordinator (if you are mentoring through a formal program and one has been made available to you) and people in your actual or virtual person network who are willing to be sounding boards or offer counsel when you need it. For more on how to activate all three resources, see the “People to Talk To” section in chapter 8. For additional thinking about what you can expect from the person who can play a genuinely pivotal supporting role in the life of a mentor participating in a formal mentoring program, see Question 14. It outlines exactly what you can expect from a mentoring program coordinator. And, finally, look once again to your Mentoring Partnership if you have one in your state (see Chapter 8 for a listing). Many can offer ideas – or actual opportunities – to connect with other mentors. And, check out what they offer online: two great examples: the Mentoring Partnership of Minnesota’s website, which has a dedicated section for mentors (www.mpmn.org/resources/For Mentors); and the Mentoring Partnership of Long Island’s site (mentorkids.org) for highly practical downloadable resources like “SAT Test Prep for English Language Users.”