Linkedin is a great way to connect with alumni of your post-secondary institution as well as recruiters for companies that you may be interested in working at. In this article I’ll outline a couple of ways to go about obtaining a professional mentor to help you achieve your professional goals.

1. Have a Professional Presence
To make your Linkedin profile be sure to keep it up-to-date with your academic and extracurricular pursuits. Write posts for major milestone events or when you land a summer internship. In terms of the photo, it doesn’t have to be a professionally taken headshot to look professional. I recommend having someone take a photo with you, even on their phone, with you dressed semi-formally with a blank or non-distracting background. Do not use selfies or filters for your profile on Linkedin as this looks unprofessional. Make sure that anything that comes up in a google search of your name accurately represents you. Meaning, as always, be mindful of your internet presence and the way you represent yourself on social media.

2.Look into Relevant People
The best way to start this search are connections that are related to your immediate network. If you can get a mutual connection to introduce you that is a great way to ease into a mentor/mentee relationship. However, if this is not an option I would recommend starting with alumni from your institution. Lots of alumni have great connections and more importantly are very supportive of students from their alma mater. Some schools use other sites such as Handshake for this purpose as well so look into the resources provided at your school’s alumni center.

3.Do Your Research
Make sure to know what you want out of your career and out of a mentor. Set reasonable expectations and make sure that you are flexible. Professionals have busy work schedules and you do not want to be hindering any of their work because that will make them much less likely to help mentor you. Have a grasp of the requirements and “FAQs” pertaining to your major or field. You don’t want to ask your mentor something that can be answered in a google search! It will be much more beneficial to ask more specific or researched questions to your mentor and they will also be able to better guide you that way as well. It shows that you are prepared, driven and organized because you’ve done the necessary research before reaching out.

4.Retain Professional Etiquette
It can be easy to be tempted to speak informally, but I urge you to make sure to respect professional boundaries. It is important to be cognizant that you set a bad first-impression for yourself by introducing yourself informally. Mind your “please” and “thank you”s and make sure that you respond as quickly as possible to anything they communicate to you. You do not want to keep your mentor waiting for your response for more than 72 hours without a good reason.

5.Connect in A Meaningful Way w/ Expectations
The most important thing is to set reasonable expectations for what you want to get out of a mentor. Do you want someone to hold you accountable and keep you on track? Do you want someone that will introduce you to their network? Ask yourself, first and foremost, what kind of a mentor you are looking for. It’s important to be cognizant of the fact that each mentor also has a distinct mentorship style. Some mentors are very communicative whereas others expect to touch base once a semester. Set clear expectations and communicate what is reasonable for both you and your mentor at the beginning so that nobody feels “let down” by the mentor/mentee relationship.

6. Touch Base with Your Accomplishments
Set some goals with your mentor so that you are able to have a clear trajectory. Furthermore, keep them in the loop of any positions, promotions or opportunities you get due to their advice. That is the best way to “thank” your mentor for their advice; show them the impact that they’ve had on your personal success!

7. Stay Safe and Trust Your Gut
There may be times where you feel pressured to accept an uncomfortable situation by a mentor. However, you should always make sure that they respect your boundaries and that you are not uncomfortable by their mentorship. An example could be receiving inappropriate and off-topic messages. It is important to address this immediately and know that you do not have to stay in a situation that makes you reasonably uncomfortable.