How to Keep Your Sanity While Keeping Your Distance

–Peer Mentoring in the New Virtual Workplace

Just because you’re working alone; you don’t have to work by yourself.

We’re all “remote workers” now – confined to our laptops, either working on our regular jobs, or freelance, or “gig” workers. How do we stay motivated, on purpose, and productive in our new “virtual workplace”?

Imagine that you had a “guardian angel”? Like a coach by your side, cheering you on, keeping you on target.

Wouldn’t it be nice to know there was someone in your corner who was committed to helping you? Someone you trust, contributing to your success, without judging you or without ulterior motives?

That’s what I call a “Peer-Mentor” – a new twist on the traditional mentoring model. Peer Mentoring is a combination or confluence of two popular trends (networking and mentoring) regardless of the business or career you’re engaged in.

Peer Mentoring is a process through which people identify their own resources and those of others and then create specific strategies for mutual goal achievement. It is a new adaptation of the age-old concept of reciprocity practiced by all cultures. Usual reciprocal practices are implicit, whereas the Peer-Mentor contract makes the agreements explicit. The participants barter resources (skills, contacts, technical expertise, advice, counseling, criticism, etc.) with each other as needed.

The operative word is “peer”, someone at one’s own level, and not necessarily a senior or superior person in rank or position. The role of the Peer-Mentor is to keep the other on target, to help push through the fears, internal blocks, and procrastination – to believe in the other even when she does not believe in herself.

There are several steps in finding the right Peer Mentor for you and your needs, and then getting to work towards achieving your separate goals.

  1. First, set a goal. It can be short, as a one-month goal, maybe a small bite out of a longer, one-year goal.
  2. Then, identify, “what skills, resources, contacts do I already have that will help me achieve that goal?”
  3. Then ask, “what skills, resources, contacts, assets will I need to achieve my goal?”
  4. Reach out among your networks to identify a person who has some of the skills/assets you need, and might want some of the skills you can offer? (of course it’s much more challenging in these days of “voluntary isolation”; you aren’t going to networking meetings, business conferences, social gatherings, etc. So you’ll have to be more creative in your “search” – your online networks (liked LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) friends of friends, colleagues.
  5. Discuss the basic idea of Peer Mentoring and its principles. Make sure you both have a clear understanding of what this involves, assess what you each bring to the table, what you each need, how much time, effort, resources you each want to offer, etc. The more explicit you are at the beginning, the better chance you have to make this process a success.
  6. Finally, make a simple Contract/Agreement with each other. Each person articulates his/her goal – what “assets” they already have, what they still need from the other.

Then they each write down specifically what they will help each other with, how they will measure the “help”. Also discussed is when they will “meet” (on the phone, or video chat) to discuss progress and make plans for the next chunk of time.

Learn more here: YOU X 2: Peer Mentoring for Success


Elaina Zuker
Elaina Zuker
ELAINA is the president of Elaina Zuker Associates in Montréal, Canada. She has taught seminars to hundreds of employees and managers at major corporations such as AT&T, IBM, American Express, and MCI International, and is a frequent keynote speaker at conferences and industry events. She is the author of six books, on leadership, management, and communication. Her best-selling book, “The Seven Secrets of Influence” (McGraw-Hill), the recent Main Selection for the Business Week Book Club, has been translated into four languages and its new, revised 2021 edition is now available on Amazon in paperback and as an e-book on Amazon Kindle. Her new book about Peer Mentoring YOUX2 has also just been launched on Amazon. Her internationally successful program “Secrets of Influence ™ is now available as an online learning program, either as a completely online self-study program or in a hybrid version. The program, created with the latest educational technology, can also be customized for an organization’s specific requirements. Ms. Zuker holds a B.A. in Psychology, an M.A. in Management/Organizational Development, and is the 2004 recipient of the Alumni Achievement Award from New York Polytechnic University. To engage Ms. Zuker as a speaker or consultant, to book a seminar for your company or organization, or to learn how to become a licensed Affiliate for Secrets of Influence, visit or contact us at [email protected]

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