Interactive resources for incubators and accelerators
Interactive resources for incubators and accelerators
Interactive resources for incubators and accelerators

Identifying, Sourcing and Selecting Mentors

This section provides an insight into how Miller Center runs their mentoring programs. It outlines where to look for mentors, how to attract them to your program, and some steps and strategies for making sure the mentors you select are the right fit for the program that you are running. Certain aspects may be different in the environments where you operate, and some things will need to be adjusted and revised based on your local context.

Mentor Intake Process

Miller Center uses a five-step mentor intake process:

  • 01.

    Apply

    The mentor intake process is initiated through a simple, online application. The application asks for a name, email, and LinkedIn profile. The Mentor Network Team reviews each application to determine if it meets the minimum skills and experience levels required for Miller Center Global Social Benefit Institute (GSBI) mentors.

  • 02.

    Qualify

    Applicants meeting the minimum requirements receive an invitation to meet with an existing mentor from the Mentor Interview Team. The Mentor Interview Team conducts the interview, looking for a match of skills, experience, demeanour, and values aligned with those of Miller Center. The Mentor Director or other evaluators must see evidence of these characteristics from the beginning in order for the applicant to progress to the next stage.

     

  • 03.

    Familiarise

    Applicants are then invited to attend Miller Center events to familiarise themselves with the work and their role as mentor.

  • 04.

    Observe

    Applicants are also invited to shadow a Miller Center team and observe how they operate. This allows the applicant to get a sense of the activities, and also the culture of the Miller Center to determine if they are the right fit. It also allows the Miller Center team to experience what it is like to work with the applicant, and understand a little more about their strengths and weaknesses.

     

  • 05.

    Mentor

    Once an applicant has been approved by the Mentor Team, they begin their role as an Associate Mentor, Co-Mentor, Lead Mentor, Content Mentor or Executive Mentor. The type of mentorship that they offer is determined by their level of experience and expertise.

Reflection

There is always a high attrition rate of mentors after the first year.

 

Those who make it beyond 10 to 12 months will stay an average of 2.8 years.

 

This means that recruiting needs to be an active and ongoing practice.

Mentor Outreach and Sourcing

Mentors should be sourced through a combination of outreach and recruitment, as good mentors can come from a range of different places:

  • Referrals from existing mentors/staff
  • Board members
  • Local business community
  • Professional organisations (eg, women’s Business association)
  • Civic organisations (Rotary, Kiwanis, Global Shakers, EO)
  • Universities and alumni associations
  • Corporate volunteer councils (eg, IAVE Global Corporate Volunteer Council, Points of Light)

Outreach activities can include:

  • Asking for mentor referrals
  • Creating mentor outreach communications (email template, flyer, presentation)
  • Hosting mentor information sessions/receptions
  • Capturing interest: online mentoring program overview and a “learn more” sign up form

Practical Tip

Create a mentor outreach plan that identifies how many mentors you need to recruit, what types of recruitment activities you have planned for each quarter, and what resources you need to complete these activities.

  • We draw largely on our alumni and network to serve as mentors. This helps to strengthen our network by reconnecting us with past contacts, but also helps establish expectations with current cohorts. Entrepreneurs mentoring and investing in each other is a hugely powerful mechanism. By making this as collaborative as possible we make new connections, nourish the community, and encourage the sourcing of diverse views.

    Will Scott-Kemmis, SecondMuse

Case Study

Miller Center Mentor Sourcing

  • 1.

    Miller Center organises quarterly mentor networking events and runs social events throughout the year where existing mentors can meet prospective mentors.

     

    Sometimes these people are actively interested in mentoring, and other times they have simply heard about the program and are interested in learning more.

     

    Miller Center also gets mentors from sign-up forms on their website, and from referrals.

     

    Source: Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship

Mentor Screening and Selection

Mentor screening and selection involves asking yourself a lot of questions about what you are looking for in a mentor, and examining the applicant with as many sources as possible to determine if they are offering what it is you need. This process usually involves three key activities; reviewing the application, interviewing applicants and checking applicant references.

Reviewing the application

Although a lot of mentors mays be referred to you through your existing network, it is still useful to ask all of your prospective mentors to submit a written application of some form. This can be an application that you design yourself, a standard resume or even simply their LinkedIn profile. Review these written materials to make sure the applicant has the level of expertise and focus needed for your program and its entrepreneurs.

Practical Tip

Make sure that your applicant understands the requirements of being a mentor. Be thorough when you are telling your potential mentors about their role.

Mentors need to understand what is required of them and the time commitment that they will need to make.

Checking applicant references

Mentors that have been referred to you by a trusted contact are great for the screening and selection process. Even if someone hasn’t been referred to you specifically (e.g. they have applied to be a mentor through your website), it is still valuable to request 2-3 references that you can follow-up with. Reach out to the applicant’s references via email or on the phone.

Reflection

Sometimes the people you want as mentors do not have the confidence (in their skills) to be part of the program and are on the fence about participating. Other times, the people who have applied to be mentors can be arrogant or don’t live the other mentor values.

Checking references can help you to better understand the strengths and weaknesses of your applicants, and sometimes even ways that you may address them.

Interviewing applicants

Interviews are a unique opportunity for you to sell the program to your prospective mentor, understand their motivation for being a mentor on your program and understand if the requirements and demands of the role will fit in with the prospective mentor’s schedule. It is a time for you to go into some more detail about the background and experiences, and to see if their values align with those of your organisation and program.

Some mentors may be unsure or afraid of taking on the role. Make them feel valued and secure throughout the selection process but especially during the interview. This will not only make the experience more enjoyable for both sides, but it will also ensure that you get to see them at their best.

 

Practical Tip

Pull out an applicant’s LinkedIn profile or mentorship application when interviewing them so that their information is fresh in your mind.

Resources

  • Mentor Types and Characteristics Template

    A Miller Center template for filling in different types of mentors

    Download
  • Outreach Plan (Example)

    A Miller Center plan for reaching out to mentors

    Download
  • Life Cycle of a Mentor (Example)

    The Miller Center mentor life cycle

    Download

Next:

Onboarding and Training

How to create value for your entrepreneurs through mentorship