Four Tips for Making the Most of Mentor Relationships

A trusted mentor can be a source of support throughout your career -- whether you're looking to get ahead, switch jobs or beat any number of professional challenges. Consider that a survey of 368 women of color by Catalyst, a nonprofit research organization in New York, found that more than two-thirds of respondents who had a mentor in 1998 had at least one upward career move by 2001.

If you're looking to get the most out of a mentor relationship, the following four tips may help:

1. Connect with like-minded professionals. When Jason Papier was taking night classes toward a financial-planner certification in 2001, he heard a financial planner lecture at the University of California, Santa Cruz. A few weeks later, Papier, then an operations manager at a software company, sent him an e-mail following up on the conversation they'd had and asked him to be his mentor.

"In this business, 99% of the people who sell products are there to make money, and that's not what I'm about," says Papier, now 33. "I wanted [a mentor] who was really trying to help people, and I learned that that's why mine had gotten into the business, too."

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