By: Chloe Slavin

If one of your New Year’s resolutions is advancing your career, set yourself up for success by finding a mentor. Picking the perfect mentor is similar to trying on a pair of shoes; there’s no one size fits all. It can be trial and error, but once you find someone you connect with, it will benefit you for years to come.

Mentorship goes beyond simply networking. It requires time, energy, and for both parties to become vulnerable. Having a mentor gives you the opportunity to understand the perspective of someone who’s “been there, done that.” They’ve had successes, failures, and can offer wisdom on how you can take on new challenges and go after your own goals.

But finding a mentor isn’t necessarily easy, especially if your professional network is limited. Luckily, technology has changed the mentorship search game for the better, making it easier than you think.

Trust me, I know. I met my mentor through social media!

During my sophomore year of college, I was required to conduct an informational interview with a professional. After researching online, I found a marketing agency that piqued my interest. I scrolled through their team page and came across a woman in a position I was interested in hearing more about. Once I looked her up on LinkedIn, I sent her a message and we met up for coffee a month later. With what I thought would be a half-hour conversation turned into two hours, and eventually two hours became two years later.

Through various career and life changes, we’ve still somehow managed to stay in touch by catching up every couple of months.

While hitting it off with my mentor may have been luck, social media made it simple to establish a connection from the beginning. There are many advantages to using our digitally connected world and this is one of them; what’s stopping you from meeting an industry leader (or your next mentor)? Here are some helpful steps on how to begin your mentor search with social media:

1.Define What You’re Looking For

It’s important to identify what kind of mentor you want. Rather than pigeonholing yourself and focusing on specific characteristics, determining the type of industry you are interested in will broaden your search. In addition, identify what level of expertise you are looking for in a mentor. Based on where you are in your career, speaking with someone with one year of experience versus ten years will greatly determine the type of feedback you will receive.

2. Start Browsing

Regardless of what your preferred form of social media is, Linkedin and Twitter are excellent sites to use when searching for a mentor. For example, LinkedIn lets you glance at individuals’ employment and skills while Twitter allows you to get a taste of someone’s personality, knowledge, and interests. If you find someone you’re interested in, follow them. However, remember that social media etiquette rules apply; make sure your accounts are appropriate before connecting online.

3. Build Rapport Before Connecting

Are you ready to finally connect? Well, hang tight. Before you suggest chatting together, build rapport with them. Sending a message that opens with how you admire an accomplishment of theirs or describing how you’re passionate about the same industry they’re in can create that surface level conversation.

As you get to know people, you will learn how they inspire you and you inspire them. During your career, you may have many mentors as your aspirations change. But whether your connection with someone leads to a mentorship or not, it helps build your professional network. Networking is the key ingredient to success and you never know where a connection may lead you. It could be your next job, business venture, or even your next mentor.

Are you ready to take your career to the next level this year? What do you want to gain from a mentor?