Eric Jacobson

Unemployed Leaders Can Be Good Mentors

In Leadership, Mentoring on April 19, 2010 at 8:03 pm

If you are unemployed, but have a history of successful leadership accomplishments and/or entrepreneurial, management and business success, you are likely ideal to be a mentor to a budding entrepreneur and emerging small business owner.

Being a mentor allows you to use your skills and experience, keeps you challenged and busy, and focuses your mind on someone other than yourself. 

Unemployed professionals can become a mentor via the web site, MicroMentor.org.

MicroMentor is a free web-based service that connects mentors with mentees around the country.  The site puts experience to work by offering business professionals meaningful volunteer opportunities and by offering entrepreneurs one-one-one advice to help build successful businesses.

Of course, employed professionals also serve as mentors to mentees, many of whom have limited access to business resources because of where they live.

Currently, there are:

  • More than 1,300 entrepreneurs (potential mentees) and more than 1,000 business people (potential mentors) enrolled in the service
  • 1,170 mentoring matches

Of the potential mentees enrolled in the service:

  • 60% are women
  • 43% are minority

How It Works:  Mentors and mentees each create a profile on the web site detailing his or her mentoring needs or experience that can be viewed by others.  Mentors and mentees then connect via the site, and once a match is made, the mentoring can take place through e-mail, phone calls, web conferencing or instant messaging.

Most mentoring matches last up to three months, however; depending on the scope of the project, a relationship could take place over a full year.

Typical Scenario:  A typical scenario is a mentee seeks advice and guidance to help him/her write a business plan for a new business.  The mentor may communicate with the mentee weekly or twice a month, for example, to:

  • offer advice and direction
  • review the material the mentee creates
  • serve as a sounding board
  • brainstorm
  • provide resources, examples, worksheets

Mentees seeking a mentor often need guidance on projects less than a full business plan, such as help with marketing, accounting, and social media and web site strategy.

MicroMentor, which started in 2001, is a nonprofit initiative of Mercy Corps., which is a nonprofit, humanitarian agency that implements community-led and market-driven programs in over 35 developing countries.

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