Building personal relationships is a powerful reason to join — and stay in — a community. These relationships help members feel their actions and presence in a community are valid, learn from those with more experience than them and teach those with less, network with people far and wide, and expand their knowledge.
Community conversations and regular events can help members do all these things organically. But a dedicated mentorship program can help mentors and mentees build strong, career-changing one-on-one relationships.
“When people join a community, one of the main things to seek is mentorship,"says Izzy Ortiz, Community Manager at Commsor and The Community Club. "A formal mentorship program allows folks to be paired intentionally based on their needs, what they hope to achieve within the partnership, as well as connecting with someone they can turn to for guidance on their journey.”
“They can attain new resources, perspectives, guidance, and a better understanding on how they can grow in their current role.”
Creating a successful mentorship program with intentional connections can be difficult for a busy Community Manager who’s got so much on their plate at any given time. You have to create an application process, send out forms, and track applications for each round of the program. Then it’s time to go through the responses and keep track of what skills and experiences potential mentors bring to the table (plus what skills and experiences potential mentees could benefit from). After that, you match mentors and mentees based on their responses (and maybe even time zones!).
And when your mentorship program is underway, the work is far from over. You still need to provide support to participants during the program, gather feedback, and analyze it to improve the experience for the next round of matches.
If that sounds like a lot of work, that’s because it is.
That doesn’t mean it can’t be done — but Meetsy can make building and growing a thriving mentorship program a whole lot easier.
As such, building a mentorship program that scales as your community grows is a two-step process:
Let’s break this down into actionable tasks:
Figure out what your community members’ goals are, and how a mentorship program can help them achieve their goals. Are potential mentees looking for guidance on how to perform better in their role? Learning about career paths and options available to them? Navigating or pivoting into the industry? Something else? And how can potential mentors help mentees?
Get feedback directly from people who would benefit from a mentorship program. You can conduct 1-on-1 interviews, small group discussions, or surveys to find out from members themselves what a good mentorship program would look like for them.
Taking part in a mentorship program — whether as mentor or mentee — is a commitment, and people will have questions before they dive in. Create a preemptive FAQs guide that outlines the basics of the program to share with mentors and mentees. Some things to include are:
If you’re setting up your mentorship program from scratch, reach out to some community members you think would make good mentors. Share what you want to achieve with this program, let them know what’s expected of mentors, and invite them to be your program’s founding mentors. And don’t forget — your mentors need support too! Reassure them that you’re around to help them in any way they need it. Communicate with mentors transparently and promptly at this stage so they understand what it’ll be like to work with you during the course of the program too.
“Offer your mentors reminders throughout the experience that you value their contributions, advice for if they feel stuck with their mentee, and even a short guide for any first-time mentors. This can set up mentors for success at any point in the program!” says DL Grant, Community Operations Manager at Commsor and The Community Club.
If you already have a mentorship program, you can add new mentors by opening up applications at periodic intervals as well as personally reaching out to community members who show potential.
Whether you’re starting a new mentorship program or moving your existing program to Meetsy, start with a small pilot program and grow it over time. Have clear application opening and closing dates, and communicate this well in time in your community’s announcements channel. It’s OK to be selective while choosing participants.
“Be clear on the criteria for all participants so that your pool of folks will legitimately have a great experience in the program,” says Izzy. “It’s OK to reject an application if they are not a good fit.”
You can invite new applications at set intervals to grow your program, balance the number of mentors with mentees, and gather data so you can analyze its performance and make adjustments to improve the experience.
“If there’s an overwhelming amount of folks for the program and there aren’t enough mentors, create a templated response for these applicants letting them know you don’t have a mentor for them in this cohort but they will be matched for the next round of the program,” says Izzy. “Communication with your applicants is key! It shows you care and that you want them to be a part of the program.”
Survey both mentors and mentees after the last formal program meeting to find out what worked — and what didn’t. You can use quantitative questions (How helpful did you find this program on a scale of 1-10?) and qualitative questions (What do you think we could have done differently to improve the experience for you?) and make any changes to the program that you think would benefit participants based on the results. We’ll show you how to set this up in Meetsy a little further down in this post.
Meetsy will allow you to automate enrollment into the mentorship program — meaning you won’t have to manually add mentors and mentees to the program every time. To automate enrollment, ask members whether they’d like to take part in the mentorship program when they sign up to your Meetsy. You will use this information later to separate participants from non-participants and mentors from mentees while building audiences.
Asking this question isn’t mandatory. If you’d prefer to manually add members, you can still do so while creating audiences. Just leave this question out of your signup questions list! Be sure to set the program to private so that only members you add will be able to participate.
Use additional signup questions to get the information Meetsy needs to match the right mentors and mentees. There are no ‘right’ questions here, and the questions you set will depend largely on the purpose of your mentorship program.
Set a signup question asking members how long they’ve been working in the industry for. You can use the answers to decide who will be a mentor and who will be a mentee.
To help narrow down matches based on goals, you could ask mentees what topics they’re looking to learn more about and mentors what topics they can mentor on. (Every member will be asked these questions, even if they’re not participating, so be sure to give them the option to say they aren’t part of the program.)
Your mentorship program’s goals may evolve over time, and you can add new signup questions to your Meetsy at any time. The next time members log in, Meetsy will ask them to answer these new questions and will keep your data updated.
The next step is to create audiences of mentors and mentees based on the answers to some of the signup questions. When you create the Match Logic for your mentorship program, you can choose which audiences will make connections in this program.
Members can be part of more than one audience, and Meetsy allows you to layer audiences to build a target mentorship program.
You can create 3 audiences for a simple mentorship program:
Using these audience rules, Meetsy will match only those members who signed up for the program, and then further match mentors with mentees only.
If you’d like to create a more focused mentorship program — say members from underrepresented communities, or based on location — ask for this information in your signup questions. Then, create new audiences based on the answers and add another layer to the audience matching rules above.
Meeting prompts let you suggest some topics and discussion points for mentors and mentees. A mentorship program can last for multiple sessions (you decide how many), and you can choose a different theme and prompts for each session.
Meetsy has a library of prompts you can choose from, and you can use these built-in prompts, create your own, or use some of both. These prompts will be available on the screen during the Meetsy video chat for mentors and mentees to refer to if they’d like.
This is an entirely optional step while setting up the mentorship program, and if you have set them up, you can let members know that they’re not obliged to follow these prompts at all.
Meetsy’s post-meeting survey feature makes it easy for you to gather information from participants on their experiences during the program.
At the end of each call, Meetsy shows participants a survey box that you can customize with multiple choice and short answer questions. Tailor your survey questions for the mentorship program to get the most relevant feedback. You could ask participants whether they felt the program was too long (or short), how they felt about their mentor-mentee pairing, or an open question to share any feedback they might have.
Meetsy stores the responses in the admin portal. You can make adjustments to the program based on the feedback to increase value for future mentor-mentee relationships.