Yesterday evening, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner posted a link to an announcement made through TechCrunch. LinkedIn is rolling out a new service that will pair LinkedIn users with mentors.

Pretty cool idea.

The free service will match users looking for mentorship with potential mentors.

Mentors and mentees will be able to select parameters for matching: Within your network, within your area, from your alma matter.

Once a match occurs, they can message each other. LinkedIn also points out that either side can end the relationship at any time.

(One drawback: The service will first roll out in San Francisco and Australia. Guess it's time to update my location!)

Technology is good, but tried-and-true mentorship rules should guide use of the service. And for that, Columbia University has produced a fantastic checklist on selecting a mentor (LinkedIn or not):

How to choose a mentor

  1. Is your mentor interested in working with you?
  2. Does your mentor have the time and patience the relationship will require?
  3. Are you able to communicate and interact comfortably with your mentor?
  4. Can your mentor contribute to your professional growth?
  5. Is your mentor in a position to help you advance in your career?

The checklist points out you should expect your mentor to become your confidant, therapist, and friend. But it also identifies things you should avoid:

How to not take advantage of a mentor

  1. Don't expect instant feedback.
  2. Don't have unclear agendas for meetings with your mentor.
  3. Don't expect explicit advice and direction.
  4. Don't react badly to criticism.

With a little courtesy, and whole lot of LinkedIn, looking for a mentor -- and being a mentor -- just got a lot easier. And more exciting.