- LinkedIn is testing a virtual mentorship experience for members, reports Fast Company. The online networking community is looking to match advice-seekers with mentors in a less formal way than traditional mentorship programs.
- LinkedIn members will be able to sign up as mentors or mentees via a dashboard on their profile page. A “career advice hub” will be displayed where they can privately access or offer advice, either on a desktop or a mobile device. Expectations will be clear from the start. Following a test period, the company hopes to roll the feature out to everyone by the end of the summer.
- LinkedIn officials told Fast Company that workers want advice on career advancement and options, but as they spend less time at specific companies, they have fewer opportunities to talk with a professional. In addition, member data shows that 89% of LinkedIn's senior leaders are interested in mentoring.
Mentoring can be an invaluable experience for both participants. And LinkedIn's virtual "cross-company" mentoring idea that allows people who don't work together to connect isn't entirely new; employers have been called on to support this type of relationship before.
Cross-company mentoring can benefit employers, as well as participants. It opens up options, allowing for a good mentor-mentee match. It can keep up with job-hopping and could be useful as more and more employees telecommute.
But essential to the success of any mentoring program, even less formal ones like LinkedIn's, is clear expectations, especially regarding the extent of the participants' involvement and the limits on each one's time. The site's assurance that it will make expectations are clear up front is a promising step.