From the December 2013 issue of Entrepreneur

One sure path to greatness is to emulate someone who has already achieved it. A mentor can guide you personally and professionally by providing information, connections and encouragement.

Cast a wide net. Consider all avenues when searching for a mentor. While professional networking and associations are obvious choices to explore, your perfect mentor might be found in a neighborhood group, at your coffee shop or on the tennis court.

Refine your request. When you make your ask, be very clear about why you chose that person, what you're hoping to accomplish and how you think he or she can help you achieve it.

Define expectations. Once you've found your mentor, make sure you clearly outline and share the same goals and expectations. Also, discuss how often you'll connect and whether it will be in person, on the phone or online.

Reciprocate. Your mentor is putting valuable time and effort into the relationship, so do all you can to show your gratitude, whether it's assisting with a task, sharing a contact or helping out in some other way.