Strategies for recruiting men, and self-reflection on the male psyche and mentoring

Posted by Eric Bleier on May 10, 2010

I took part in a webinar recently about strategies for recruiting men as mentors and had some thoughts about how men might interpret "mentor."

I took part in a webinar (there’s a word that did not exist 10 years ago) recently about strategies for recruiting men as mentors. It was hosted by Mentor Michigan and on their website they have a multitude of resources for mentoring programs looking for ways to improve the effectiveness of their message to men.

Since the average person in America has been steeped in reductionist-style thinking as a means for understanding something, the session leaders contend there are several components of a successful message as it regards convincing men to be mentors. However, I would argue (as a man) these could be useful for anyone trying to convince a man to consider contributing time or something else to a cause.
1. Awareness: Making the Case
2. Understanding: The Role of Stories
3. Comfort: You Can Do It
4. Commitment: Let’s Be Clear About Things
5. Success: The Ability to Win
6. Closing/Making the Ask
7. Overcoming Objections & Concerns

Immediately, I took away two things from this. One, that while men do have empathy and feelings which can be appealed to, the recruiter also must be aware that the word “mentor” can be translated in a man’s brain as nurturing a young person which has been equated with femininity for so long that another tactic might be best.

The second thing I took away was that trying to recruit a man to spend time with, usually, a young man or boy is a sales pitch.
While it is inevitable that the word “mentor” has to be used, part of the pitch must include the painting of a new picture of what it means to be a mentor. This could be the same if I were trying to recruit people to be docents at a museum and I needed to update their conception of what that word means.
Stories come in handy with building not only this new picture, but at the same time helping men believe they are qualified and capable to be mentor. There is one good example of painting the picture that I will quote directly:

“How often do we take a moment to look at the people who shaped our lives? Think for a moment – who were the important men that influenced you? Imagine now if you took all of them away. That is what life is like for many of the children waiting for someone like you to come into their lives.”

I like how effective this is in conjuring up images of influential persons in my life, then trying not to think what I would be without them. Then as I measure myself to them now, I think I am at least capable of giving the small words of encouragement they gave me to someone. And come to think of it, I probably owe some of those people a debt that is best paid to a younger generation.




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