"Trusted Relationships in Virtual Mentoring "

By Doug Lawrence

The part that I get the utmost satisfaction and reward from is spending time with people that have embraced mentoring for a number of reasons. This past week was no exception as I was truly blessed and honored to work with two different groups of very passionate people. One of the topics that we talked about was the importance of building trust in a mentoring relationship. Trusted relationships and effective communication are actually the cornerstones or foundation to a successful mentoring relationship. Building trusted relationships is a transferable skill and one that we can use in our professional and personally lives. Effective communication is another transferable skill that can be used in our personal and professional lives.

Virtual mentoring or e-mentoring as it is sometimes called is another method of sharing the “gift of mentoring.” What was ironic was that we talked about this on Thursday during the mentor training course and then I was blessed with two virtual mentoring discussions on Friday!

I leverage technology where I can to bring value to the relationship and to bridge the geographical challenges that we sometimes have to deal with. I spend time with people that are geographically located globally and with that some things to consider. Let’s take a look at what that might be.

No matter how you frame this, building a trusted relationship is still one of the cornerstones/foundational elements in a virtual mentoring relationship. Developing that trusted relationship can be a challenge in a face to face mentoring relationship and is even more so in a virtual relationship. There is a lot of research that supports the value in virtual mentoring but also mentions that the building of the trusted relationship is one of the challenges. Virtual mentoring can be done a number of different ways; texting, email, telephone, Skype and Google Hangout to name a few. Building trust in the relationship no matter how you plan on doing it is critical.

How do we go about doing this in a relationship that is virtual and is not face to face in a lot of situations? The building of trust whether it be in a mentoring relationship or in a personal relationship is crucial. When you think of your personal relationships how meaningful would they be without trust. Building that level of trust in a virtual mentoring relationship requires that you utilize your effective communication skills to the utmost. Effective communication requires that we listen and hear what the other person is saying. We need to be listening for the trigger words in the conversation, the deflecting away from a topic that they are not quite ready to talk about. We need to demonstrate that we do care about them and are genuine with those feelings. These are things that you would do to build a trusted relationship no matter what type of relationship you are building.

Virtual mentoring/e-mentoring can be a valuable tool to have in your mentoring program in an organization that is globally dispersed. I leverage it in order to meet the needs of people that I am spending time with where we cannot meet face to face. You need to know however that building the trust in a virtual environment may take longer than normal to do. You may never get to the same place that you would if this was a face to face relationship. I use the same approach in building the trusted relationship no matter the type of relationship.

Building a trusted relationship and communicating effectively are transferable skills that serve us in both our personal and professional lives and are crucial in virtual mentoring.