According to this article by Ingrid Lunden on TechCrunch, LinkedIn will be offering free mentoring: LinkedIn is rolling out a free service to pair users with mentors.
Today, the company is debuting a new service that identifies potential mentors and people who might be looking for mentorship in a specific area, and then helps match them to each other. The service (which started with a small test last month) is free and will be available first to users in San Francisco and Australia, Hari Srinivasan, Head of Identity Products at LinkedIn, tells me.
As you can see those of us not in San Francisco and Australia will wait some undermined period of time until we can try out this service for ourselves. Evidently LinkedIn has hand-picked a list of potential mentors, but there’s no clue as to what criteria they used for selection.
Nor is there any indication of how long a commitment a mentor will make to a mentee. It’s a bit clearer regarding mentees:
On the mentee side, after you indicate that you are interested in getting some advice or feedback on a particular topic, LinkedIn then gives you your own potential parameters to narrow down your search (again, initially these are whether you want people near you, or from your alma mater), or if you potentially want a list of potential mentors that is as wide as LinkedIn’s user base.
Once you match, you can then message each other, and either side can terminate the communication at any point.
Given LinkedIn’s focus on recruitment and career development my guess is that the mentoring offered will be aimed at those seeking to improve their job performance, not at founders struggling with issues with their startups. The very short slide show, evidently provided by LinkedIn isn’t very informative. For one thing it lacks any examples of the type of advice mentors will provide.
Here’s the only quote from LinkedIn:
“We have done research and found that among the senior ranks of our user base, nine out of 10 people have said they want to give back,” he said. “Paying it forward is a powerful force. All of them received help on the way up and now want to find a way to give that help back to others.”
So until the service is expanded beyond it’s small pilot footprint we’ll have to take a wait and see attitude. So while I’m all for mentoring whether for founders or climbers of the career ladder, there’s so little detail available it’s premature to judge LinkedIn’s effort. If done well it could help formalize and spread at least one flavor of mentorship.
However, it’s way too soon to see if it will complement or compete with existing mentoring services like VMS at MIT/