Sharing your mentoring story

Mentoring programs are always in need of qualified volunteers and current mentors can be the most effective recruiters.

Mentoring programs rarely have enough volunteers to meet the needs of all of the young people who would like to be matched with a mentor. Unfortunately, recruiting new mentors can be difficult and take a considerable amount of time. Experience has proven that the best recruiters are current mentors who can share their experiences and help break down perceived barriers. Mentors can speak passionately about mentoring and have more credibility because they are volunteers rather than paid staff.

As noted by Mentor in “Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring,” word of mouth recruitment is cited as the most effective recruitment strategy. So, how can mentors spread the word and help change even more lives? Michigan State University Extension has some tips for mentors:

  • Take some time to think about your experience. Why did you start mentoring? What has it been like? Why do you keep coming back? The answers to these questions are the foundation of your testimonial.
  • Make a list of people you know who you think would be a great mentor. Rather than casting a large net and trying to recruit everyone, narrow it down to those who are most likely to be successful.
  • Ask your program coordinator for some marketing materials. It is helpful to provide a brochure or some piece of print material to those you talk to. When you talk to the program staff, find out if there are any specific needs at the moment. Perhaps the program needs more mentors of one gender or are seeking to add diversity.
  • Start talking. First, ask the person if they have ever considered mentoring. Listen to their answer. Next, it’s important to let them know you think they would be a great mentor—and why you think this.
  • Once you have started the conversation, share your experience as it seems relevant. Perspective mentors often perceive barriers and sometimes they need to hear how others work around them. For instance, a common misconception is that mentoring takes a lot of time. In reality, it is usually a small amount of time on a regular basis. Share how you make it work.
  • If possible, invite the perspective mentor to a program training or event, or offer to make an introduction to the program coordinator.
  • People rarely say yes to such a big commitment immediately. It’s OK to start the conversation and continue it over multiple meetings.

While one-on-one conversations have the most potential to recruit a new mentor, there are other small things you can do to raise awareness:

  • Talk about mentoring on social media. Share a post from your site or mention you are a mentor.
  • Wear a program t-shirt.
  • Tell people you are a mentor and talk about the program.

As a mentor, you are already having an impact on the life of your mentees. If you help recruit more mentors, your impact increases as more youth move from the waiting list to a match.

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