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I have been thinking a lot lately about how I label myself.  One facet of my business is providing professional consulting services that includes working with individuals to help them shape their social media and communication needs to fit their business and personality.  Unlike the customary definition for mentoring, I charge for my service, have a strategy in place, and work towards defined goals with my clients.  Lately, more and more clients have been referring to me as their ‘coach’ – a term I have shied away from in the past mainly due to the sports-analogy feel.  Mentoring seems to be more organic, needs-based, and personalized.  As a non-sports person, to me the term coaching feels like a top-down method of issuing training and advice…and that’s not what I’m about.  I don’t want to misrepresent myself, but still feel that mentoring is the correct description for this part of my services.  I know professional business coaches, and they don’t fit that definition either, but somehow the term just doesn’t feel right for me.

So far I have only had one instance where someone assumed, based on my use of the term mentor, that my services were available free of charge.  Looking back, I’m not even sure that it was my use of the term, but the inability to place value on my background, experience, services, and ideas.  I suppose to some only the widget only has value, not the idea to make it.

After this self-reflection, I think I will still refer to myself as a social media and communications mentor, but one who provides customized coaching services to entrepreneurs and small businesses.  Does that make any sense? I suppose in the end what I label myself doesn’t matter, as long as my clients get results and the guidance and inspiration to excel their business using social media.