Social Mentors

Fred Wilson wrote a great post the other day called, Role Models. In it he talked about the importance of role models for young entrepreneurs who are just starting out. I agree with him. No one makes it alone. Having a mentor can make all the difference.

Mentors are hard to come by. It’s not like they have a Walmart for mentors.

The mentor/mentee relation can take time to develop. Other times it’s a simple introduction. Despite how they are developed they are normally off-line, face to face, personal, relationships. One of the most difficult parts of finding a mentor is access. Successful, accomplished experts are hard to come by.

Fred’s post got me thinking. Social media is providing a new type of mentor, a “social mentor.”

Social media provides the two critical pieces of mentorship; access and information.

Mentorship is about providing guidance, experience, knowledge and support. Social media, through it’s blogs, comments, Tweets, Fan Pages and more allows an informal mentorship to take place. Blogs share experiences and information. The comments allow readers to ask questions. Overtime, the author and regular commentators build a relationship. The author becomes responsive to his or her regular readers and provides provocative, informative, answers to their questions. The same applies to other social media sites. The experts engage with the novices and share their experience and knowledge. Bang! A “social mentor” relationship is created.

I’ve seen examples of this all over the web. The best example I’ve seen is Fred’s blog. Fred writes great informative posts everyday. He receives 100’s of comments on those posts. He has a good following of regular commentators who comment often; asking questions, and engaging with Fred. I can’t prove it, but I’d be willing to bet a number of these people see Fred as an informal mentor.

Social media is changing a lot of things. How we define mentors is one of them.

Nothing will replace the power and benefits of an offline mentor/mentee relationship. But where it used to be all or nothing, social media is creating a very happy and beneficial medium.

I’m beginning to find a number of social mentors. What about you? Who are yours?

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]