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The New Stuff

Can You Be Mentored On Twitter

A couple of days ago I posed a question on Twitter about whether a person can be mentored on Twitter. The responses were mixed.

First, What is mentoring:
According to debworks it is "showing/teaching a willing participant the wonderful things you know."

While jberkowitz thinks mentoring is "the process of guiding people through a process that let's them successfully realize their goal."

According to the dictionary it is both a noun (position) and a verb (action). One definition is "To serve as a trusted counselor or teacher to (another person)."

By most of the definitions the burden seems to be on the mentor, as opposed to the mentee (person being mentored).I would beg to differ, in that I think the mentee is essential to the equation, because their action or inaction is reflective of the mentor. A mentor can "suggest," but the person has to make the decision of whether to take action or not.

With Twitter, you only have 140 characters to say something, but considering it has been used to convey information on wars, news, blogs, and the like, I don't think there is a limitation in terms of being used for mentoring.
I put the following questions on Twitter, can a person be mentored online? What is your definition of mentoring? These are the responses I received.

  • Alan W. Silberberg of You2Gov says "In a way we are being mentored. We can read leader's thoughts, interact w/ them, learn from others experience. Group Mentoring?"

  • CoachIyabo agrees. "I think you can be mentored on twitter. If you are willing to put your stuff out there as to where you are and take in info."

  • JeanieMarshall "Mentoring on Twitter can be very effective. It's quick. But not everything can be said in 140 strokes. Must know when to switch."

But one voice of cautious descent stands out with some good points:
cobwebcorner You can receive support and some inspiration on Twitter and you may develop a relationship that can extend further, but true mentoring involves a lot of interaction and support that I'm not sure you could really get in 140 character snippet.

I consider mentoring to be a person that shows you how to do things that has earned the right to give advice to the recipient. It is not just anyone who has an opinion about how you should do something. We all know that we read snippets from people all the time about how to do things, and that may make them a teacher, but it does not make them a mentor. Further, just because someone is good at their job does not mean they would be good as mentors. There are some who only mentor people if they are paid to do so, and some who just naturally draw people to them in that way. people want to learn from them.

Mentoring can be just the snippets and materials that people put online or their books, but I think that action is required. As Debworks points out there was to be a willingness to learn. I would add that learning is good, but action is better. We all know people who just want to be around people, so they can flaunt it, but the true mentee is active in putting what they are being taught into action. At that level, it does not matter how few or short snippets there are. There is so much that can be said around mentoring on Twitter, but suffice it to say that the naturals have no problems getting a prodigy.

It would seem that mentoring can be different for different people. Some consider it a person, while others think it is an action. It can be online, by phone, E-mail, or in person. But all seem to agree that mentors are needed. The main question that has to be answered is what the person wants out of the relationship and if the mentor can and is willing to give it.