Exercise 5: Using a Network Analysis for Choosing a Mentor

The purpose of this exercise is to have you think about the kind of mentorship or next steps you may be looking for as you exit our virtual office. We would like to offer you a frame of reference or an approach from which to view a more formal mentorship. That frame is called network analysis and it is an important lens to locate mentoring in the wider social-political environment. In mentoring practice it locates the mentee in their network, identifying points of connectivity where they can influence change. Identifying powerful connections and groups, powerless groups, key and missing stakeholders and resources, the mentee begins to map their social or work world discovering patterns and gaps. This is useful as it helps the mentee internalize a sense of their place, their location or dislocation and how to make a difference. Network analysis helps place mentoring in the 21st century because it reflects the increasingly connected world where organizations are more global and have complex stakeholder relationships. We live in a network society and mentors need to work in this domain. To begin your own network analysis, consider these questions and jot down some ideas in your journal.

  1. What kinds of networks do you already belong to?
  2. How would you situate yourself in those networks?
  3. Do your current networks enable you to search for a mentor or further personal development opportunities?
  4. In a formal mentorship what kinds of changes would you like to see happen for yourself, for the community that you live in or for the work place that you are employed in?
  5. What kind of connections are you looking for in your networks that will enable you to make a difference by choosing a certain type of mentor or personal development opportunity?
  6. Using a network analysis as a springboard, another approach to choosing a mentor could be around the notion of a community of practice through online experiences such as social media. Virtual mentoring in a community might be something you would also like to explore. What communities might you already belong to where you can begin to make these connections and build relationships? Have you considered resources such as LinkedIn, ResearchGate or even a community such as Reddit /r/mentors?