What You Need When You Need a Mentor

We've all wanted our own Obi-Wan Kenobi from time to time, a mentor who can guide us to our best personal and professional selves. When it comes to nabbing the right one, though, many of us have no real idea where to start. While your alma mater or affinity group may offer mentorship programs, setting your expectations before you meet can help both of you from the word go.

The Muse has just shared an excellent article on "catching and keeping" a good mentor. First and foremost, you should put a lot of prep work into your search. Ask yourself what concrete results you want from a mentoring relationship, and whether that mentor can realistically provide what you're looking for. (Advice for redirecting your transferrable skills, that's good; asking for outright string-pulling is maybe less so.)

Once you've identified and reached out to your prospective mentor, give yourselves as much structure as you both can agree on. Not all mentoring relationships are weekly coffee dates, and they don't all have to be. (This can also help you refrain from bombarding your mentor with questions and emergencies day in and day out.) Finally, remember that this is a two-way relationship. Your mentor is getting something from this arrangement too, so be sure you understand what that is.

Keep all this mind for later. Someday, you may have the chance to pay it forward. In the meantime, if you're still feeling lost about where to start your search, as luck would have it, LinkedIn can help with that.