Business Management

Playing Matchmaker With the Mentor Database

“We’ve had people signing up daily since its launch,” says Shelley. Barely two weeks after the launch date, Shelley informed me we made our first match and later the same week, a second match!

Many of you are aware of the hours I keep here at the computer day in and day out, adding content not only to but to 65 other websites that I maintain. I also help anyone who asks for assistance in learning how to use the computer and all the various online toys. The other thing I do is read e-mail—lots of it! I read every post to each of the 15 message boards on the website, plus every post to the five mailing lists I manage for beauty professionals. So you can imagine what it takes for a post to really grab my attention.

A few months ago, I read with great interest a post to the NailTech Message Board from Shelley Lewis in Texas. This is what she wrote: “It seems that many are interested in mentoring, or being mentored. So, let’s start a list with those who are wanting to be mentored. Just put your name, and where in the country you are, and maybe we can get some new techs and new friendships going, I will also post a list for seasoned nail techs who are interested in being mentors. Good luck to you all! (By the way, I am interested in finding a mentor.) Shelley Lewis, Hereford, TX.”

When Shelley wrote this she was still in school, but she already knew in her heart she was not going to complete school with the refined technical skills she needed. She had been reading for a long time and had just started to post to the boards, asking and absorbing all the information and ideas there. “While reading the posts, I thought to myself how awesome it would be if I could just sit down with a seasoned tech, to watch or ask questions or have them show me some of their techniques. I thought how wonderful it would be to have someone I could call and say, ‘Hey, I just had this happen, what do I do about it?’ A mentor would be the perfect solution. Then I thought, well, if I feel this way, there are more than likely others out there wishing for the very same thing,” recalls Shelley.

I read all the responses to Shelley’s post—each one more enthusiastic then the previous one. Mentoring has always been a frequent topic on both the message boards and the mailing list and I was very intrigued with Shelley’s idea. We e-mailed back and forth a few times, then I called her. I asked Shelley what, if anything, was she doing to keep track of the techs who had posted about being in need of a mentor or those willing to be a mentor. She admitted she wasn’t sure exactly how to go about keeping up with it. That is where my computer-like brain took over. While we talked and I queried her about her computer skills and available software to keep such a list or database, my brain was turning and fingers flying searching the Internet for an online tool to use for this purpose.
I was rewarded on my very first search with the most incredible database software that would be perfect for the situation. As we spoke, I was already deep into setting up what was to very quickly become known as the Mentor Database. I was also positive that Shelley would be the perfect person to manage and administrate the database.
Next came the planning, organizing, tweaking, letter writing, etc., which required hours of e-mailing, phoning, and instant messaging back and forth between Shelley and me. The official launch of BeautyTech’s Mentor Database came on September 21—just five weeks after Shelley’s original post to the boards. “We’ve had people signing up daily since its launch,” says Shelley. Barely two weeks after the launch date, Shelley informed me we made our first match and later the same week, a second match!

How It Works
Both the mentor and person desiring mentoring must register at the website. There is a $10 one-time fee to register to cover administrative costs only. The list is only viewable by myself and Shelley, so there will never be any prying eyes snatching up postal and e-mail addresses or phone numbers. The registrant’s information will never be sold or shared with anyone for any reason except if a match is found. When a match has been made, Shelley sends e-mails to both parties with all the contact information, so they can get started as soon as possible. The rest—setting up a schedule, establishing fees (if any), etc.—is left completely up to the mentor and the person wanting assistance.

As world spread about the coming of the database, several longtime technicians helped me put together a wonderful set of guidelines for both parties. It includes information such as what to expect, how long each session should last, how to listen to each other, note taking, and much more.

“The database is building daily, and we know it will continue to be a success. The new nail technicians have so much more to learn, and the seasoned nail technicians have so much to teach us,” says Shelley. “We would not be able to make this industry a success without each other. Even if it only helps one new nail technician, then this database has done its job, but more importantly, we are making new friends in this sisterhood of nail technicians.”

What Motivates the Mentors?
“I have had quite a few people help me along the way. Tim Fanquhar, Vicki Peters, and John Hauk have all helped me to improve my skills in the salon and on the competition floor. I love helping others the way they—and many others—have helped me.”--Alisha Chmiel, Arts Beauty Spa, Dayton, Ohio

“I have always loved to teach other people my techniques and as I have experience in nails, hair, massage, and skin care. I want to share it with others. I only wish I had someone to mentor me when I started out 23 years ago.”--Darlene Sammons, Backscratchers Salon Systems educator  and nail tech at Creative Concepts, Chattanooga, Tenn.

“My nail technology teacher was a cosmetologist who felt nails were beneath her so the best part of my education came from other techs who were willing to share their time and talents with me. I wanted to do the same. When I began helping others I realized I gained as much from the experience as they did. I love that light bulb moment when something clicks and it suddenly works.”--Sheryl Goldberg, Wheeling, III

“When I started doing nails about 14 ½ years ago, there were not many nail techs or mentors. Trade shows and trade magazines were not as widely available and I had a terrible experience with a senior tech I worked with. So, my motivation comes from my journey and my desire to share my knowledge and experience.”--La Shaun Brown-Glenn, NailsNaturally,Chicago

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