How $500 Can Propel Your Online Presence

July 1, 2014

by Dan Richards

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Sometimes the best ideas come from the least likely sources. At a conference last week, I chatted with an advisor. Let’s call him Scott. He described how hiring a summer student for one day a week is transforming the way that he and his partners view their firm’s presence online.

A client asked me if I knew anyone who might be interested in hiring his daughter Erin, who has just finished her second year at a local college, for the summer. She was unable to get a full-time job, so she’s working for her dad four days a week and for us the fifth day. This started with us doing a good client a small favor, but spending 90 minutes a week working one-on-one with Erin has turned out to be among the best investments I‘ve ever made.

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On Erin’s day, my two partners and I each work with her for 45 minutes in the morning and again in the afternoon. The rest of the time, she does miscellaneous admin work. We spend time on the popular social-media sites and on some of the most popular blogs for the financial industry. This has been a huge eye-opener for all three of the partners at our firm. We all agree that the $15 an hour we pay Erin is a huge bargain when we look at how this experience is changing the way we look at the online space.

Applying reverse mentoring to your business

The concept of reverse mentoring was popularized by Jack Welch, who in the late 1990s assigned the top 500 managers at GE to meet with new hires one-on-one to learn about this new phenomenon called the internet. A 2011 article in the Wall Street Journal described how reverse mentoring has had a rebirth, with organizations like Cisco, Hewlett-Packard and advertising giant Ogilvy & Mather  using it to bring senior managers up to speed on social-media trends

“At a planning session last fall, my partners and I agreed to make it a priority to start talking to the adult children of our top clients.” Scott said. “We assigned an associate in his 30s to lead the charge. Even so, my partners and I are still involved in many of those meetings. These sessions have been especially helpful in creating a deeper understanding of how people in their 20s and early 30s want to communicate.”

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