The other day, a writer friend of mine received a LinkedIn request. She didn’t recognize the woman’s name, but saw that she worked for a reputable publishing company. She decided to accept the request.
The next day, the woman sent her a lengthy LinkedIn message thanking my friend for the add. She then wrote that she was looking to break into writing, and wondered if my friend could offer some advice or contacts. My friend was puzzled. She had never met this person, yet had been chosen to give her career guidance? Also, if the woman worked in publishing, it followed that she must know several writers. Why not ask one of them?
In the end, my friend sent a message back with a few general pointers. She wished the woman luck, but she’s still perplexed by the exchange. You can’t pick and choose mentors as you please; in most cases, those relationships happen organically. LinkedIn isn’t like some dating site where you can procure a mentor with whom you have no personal or professional relationship. It’s far better to seek out people within your circle, who can take more time to provide insight and see what you have to offer. An ideal mentor will see your talent and be moved to invest their time and efforts into helping you grow.