Thursday, 21 February 2008

Mentors, Mentees and Networking

I went to my first Mentor/Mentee meeting last night. My mentor couldn't make it but I went a long anyway and my contact person from Nyföretagarcentrum was there. I've already mentioned what a great organisation they are and I will say it again.

The program is run by a division of Nyföretagarcentrum called Mentor Your Business and the program goes for the duration of the mentorship - one year. We started with individual presentations of the mentees which showed the variety of businesses that are in start-up phase, and the variety of people starting companies. Following that was a little bit of a "lecture" about business ideas or concepts and then group work to discuss what we want out of this program.

The common theme was seminars and workshops on the fundamental elements of running a business - designing a website, telephone contact, sales meetings, contracts, presentation technique and a few other things - including the opportunity to mingle, mingle, mingle. It is interesting to hear who the others are, and the what, where, why and how they are doing. Ideas are exchanged, tips are given and concepts are discussed.

I am involved in another group in town called Våga Språnget. It is exclusively for women starting up companies. We meet every 2-3 weeks on a Wednesday afternoon for a specialist-led workshop followed by a chance to mingle. It is anticipated that this will become an informal network that will continue to meet and exchange ideas, experiences and support. Again after listening to 16 other business concepts it is so interesting to see the variety and it doesn't take long before members of the group are discussing opportunities to collaborate.

Our first meeting on the 13th was an introduction, a chance to get to know each other and discuss our concerns or the challenges we face in our chosen venture. Next week we will have a marketing seminar, followed by seminars which will include budgeting, selling, financing our projects and balancing our professional and private lives. This takes us through to our final meeting in May where we will meet three women who have been through this process and successfully come out the other end. They will share their experiences with us.

I was selected to go in to both of these programs and while there may be some overlap it does seem like they will be run differently. In any case the people involved are all different which will greatly affect the outcome and I am so glad to have regular contact with others and avoid being a lone wolf.

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