Startups

What is 'Peer Mentoring' and what is its value within startups


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By: Lucía Matti Ortiz, Business Development Peru at Wayra Hispam

Being an entrepreneur is a lonely and often misunderstood path. Unlike corporations, within a startup it is difficult to find people with a different scale of experience who can generate a peer mentoring relationship and thus learn together. For founders, thinking about peer mentoring within the company becomes a complex task.

But what is peer mentoring ? We refer to a relationship in which two employees of a company with similar ranks or levels of seniority are tied . One of the parties usually has more experience than the other and the main objective is precisely to share knowledge, complement each other, and therefore discover new possibilities and solutions to challenges they face, including emotional support within the entire entrepreneurship process.

Peer mentoring is a term that is generally used at the corporate level, it is part of programs used by the Human Resources area, to promote in a formal and structured way its collaborators, to have a more effective transition to levels with greater leadership in the organization and gain knowledge. However, little is said about the peer mentoring in the world of startups.

This is where the power of the community comes into play, which has a huge impact on the growth of startups , we usually find communities around accelerators, investment funds or government institutions. An example is formed by Wayra , the corporate investment arm of Telefónica Movistar, which has a wide network of contacts in Latin America, where interaction between founders, sector specialists, analysts, investors, etc. is promoted.

Among the benefits that have been identified when implementing continuous peer mentoring mechanisms and processes are:

  1. Strengthen the network of contacts : Being part of a community is not enough to create interpersonal relationships. However, when you go into more in-depth conversations about day-to-day or issues, that’s where real bonds begin to develop.
  2. Give and receive feedback : Peer mentoring exercises not only talk about problems and receive advice, it is also about seeing how experience can contribute to solve the problems of the other. This helps to open the mind and analyze possibilities for businesses that were probably not considered.
  3. Shorten the learning curve : By listening to the experience of others, mistakes and situations that others may have already experienced can be avoided.
  4. Build life learning : The value generated in these sessions is invaluable content that is rarely found in books or courses.

How can it be applied?

Here creativity has no limits. Peer mentoring can be promoted proactively, generating regular meetings with people who can contribute knowledge, something as casual as a coffee every so often can work.

If you are looking for something much more structured and you feel that there are no people on the Internet who can help, there are companies that provide these services and that allow access to peer mentoring groups. In fact, many of the same communities usually offer these services, this option is ideal if you want to expand the network of contacts and understand in a structured way how to carry out these types of sessions to get the most out of it.

Finally, what should be taken into account when organizing or participating in a peer mentoring session?

There are two key points. The first is knowing how to listen and choose. All feedback must be well received and taken with an open mind, there are experiences that can be very close and that can be of great help, but surely there will be others that are not. It should be taken into account that these conversations give a guide on the paths that can be taken, but nothing is written and each entrepreneur decides what is healthy for his business.

The second is not to forget that this exercise is about giving and receiving, especially when it comes to entrepreneurship. You should always try to contribute to the other, no matter how simple the idea may sound, you may be opening the mind of the other person, and that openness can bring a series of benefits.

Being part of a community is key today for startups, since they allow generating contacts to develop business, they are also great allies in the identification of investment opportunities, and are of great help even to disseminate hiring positions.

There are many private networks that are an access point for other startups, it is a matter of searching the country for which ones are suitable for the company. They can be found by industry, by maturity level, paid, free, etc. This is, without a doubt, where entrepreneurs will have a greater chance of achieving effective peer mentoring , where they will receive valuable feedback for the survival and success of the startup.



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