Serious middle aged executive manager explaining colleague online workRelationships are critical in business. It also turns out they’re pretty critical while you’re just starting on the road to business success, as well. Why? Mentors and peer relationships are essential to help us acquire new skills, navigate our changing industry, and inspire creative thinking about our career arc.

Mentors are also essential for helping to find new opportunities, and even set goals for forging a new path. As one article in Tech Crunch explained, mentors are “the secret weapon of successful tech startups” — and this wisdom applies to the individual professionals, too!

Moreover, it’s always a good time to be building your professional network. That’s why today, we’re sharing a list of need-to-know information for tech professionals — at any stage of your career. Here are some things to remember when you’re developing a mentoring relationship.

1) Realize that your choice of mentor will make all of the difference. Before you start your search, take a little time to set some professional goals and decide what kind of relationship you’re looking for. You must choose the right person for the job, to get the full benefits.

2) Know where to find a mentor. The first place to start is the HR department of your current employer. Some have formal (or even informal) mentoring programs. You can also look to former work colleagues, search your professional network, use social networking sites (such as LinkedIn or Facebook), contact your university, or join a professional organization.

3) Don’t underestimate the power of peer relationships when choosing a mentor. Your ideal person doesn’t have to be someone far older, more successful, or already holding your dream job. Instead, what you might need is someone to share and compare experiences for a mutually successful mentoring partnership. For example, you might consider reaching out to colleagues at work to support each other on projects. There are also peer networking and mentoring organizations currently popping up in our industry.

4) Once you’ve found someone, be sure to make the most of your mentoring relationship. You must cultivate a close relationship in order to be successful. While the relationship should always stay professional, in a healthy working relationship you will naturally move past the formality and get to a place where you feel comfortable asking questions and seeking more personal advice. Not sure what this means?