Mentorship: one-to-one support for your business questions
Facebook groups, NTCA offer advice to bolster businesses
Education and training take many forms – workshops, regional programs, lunch-and-learns. In this time of COVID-19, virtual conferencing tools like Zoom have helped convey information that traditionally was taught in person.
Long before COVID even reared its ugly head, Facebook instituted an option where experienced individuals in a group could work one-to-one with others with similar interests, to assist, support, and mentor them.
NTCA contractor member Bradford Denny, of Nichols Tile & Terrazzo in Joelton, Tenn., has been a mentor through Facebook in the NTCA Members Only group for a while. Once a group gets to a certain size, Facebook opens a popup that invites longstanding members of a group to become members, and Denny decided to give it a try.
“There has been a spirit of mentorship in NTCA as long as it has been around,” Denny explained. “That naturally happens with contractors in that network. When you come to an event, you meet people who have something going on you can learn from.”
Denny explained that mentorship is a commitment on the part of the mentor and the mentee. “Mentorship is an investment by both parties,” he said. The mentee has to be willing to act on suggestions that the mentor will offer.”
Facebook provides a virtual board that lists mentors and mentees on the group; when both parties agree to mentorship and are paired up, the mentee comes off the board. “They have to re-up if they want to try with a different mentor or get a separate perspective from someone else,” Denny said.
He observed that you are “witnessing real-time learning” with the Facebook Mentor Program in the NTCA Members Only group.
Denny has been working with seven people in the past few months. The process includes a get-to-know-you process in which mentors and mentees learn about each other and their businesses – like primary business, number of employees, annual volume. Facebook gives a mentor a list of steps to follow to guide the mentee through the process. These include:
- Get to know each other (with suggestions on how to do that)
- Agree on a goal for the mentee
- Have a plan
- Discuss progress
- Keep it going
- Celebrate progress
- Look ahead
“The mentor asks, ‘What is your greatest need in business right now?’ and from there, try to give them solutions,” Denny explained. “Many ask, ‘I want to grow my business,’ so we explore how good a handle the mentee has on their business, for starters.”
Denny has a reading list that he shares with mentees. He also recommends mentees use NTCA University as a resource; vouchers members receive in the Partnering for Success program can be used towards NTCA University coursework. Because Denny also is a mentor on the Tile Geeks Facebook page, he said, “NTCA University is a good way to expose people to NTCA in general. One guy joined and he said ‘I’m in the NTCA, what do I do?’ So I walked him through the process.”
Mentors and mentees mostly communicate on Messenger as time allows, though sometimes there are also phone calls. Denny lets his mentees know what his availability is, then asks questions, recommends reading, and asks the mentee to read and think about it and answer back. Denny worked with one mentee, referred him to a book and they discussed it, then they worked forward to set a goal.
Though there are no requirements or vetting of mentors through Facebook, when potential mentors fill out a profile, it lists their knowledge and experience in various aspects of the tile business. “The mentee also fills out a profile detailing where they want to grow or need help, in terms of the business or technical aspects of their business,” Denny said. “The mentor can choose a mentee, or a mentee can choose a mentor, and you can end a mentorship at any time.”
In addition to the Facebook mentorship program, NTCA has word-of-mouth, member-only mentorship option that is coordinated through NTCA Assistant Executive Director Jim Olson. “I’ve asked new and existing members to let me know what they would like help with,” Olson said. “There is more interest in business mentoring versus technical, due to our technical hotline,” he said. Various NTCA Five-Star Contractors and State Ambassadors have stepped up to mentor, support, and answer questions.”
Olson said the program is mostly focused on residential business and smaller companies with a goal to formalize it and make it available on a Business Mentor page situated on the Member Only Section of the NTCA association website. For now, to learn more about the NTCA Mentorship Program, contact Jim Olson at