This is part two of a two-part series on how to find a mentor.
Ok, let’s talk about how to reach out to mentors and build a relationship that will set you up for success.
1. Show promise (have a good story)
No one wants to volunteer invest time in something that might not be successful. If all you have is a bachelors degree and an internship, you need to do something out of the box to attract a good mentor. Build a blog, start a big project, launch a business, do something that makes you stand out from the crowd and shows that you have a promising future. Here are two things that I did:
Two years into blogging, I was really disappointed by my lack of following. I started a project asking women to write letters to their 20-something selves, reached out to a few blogger friends to help me start it, and pitched media. I collected over 200 letters, was interviewed on NPR: All Things Considered, featured on NewYorkTimes.com and a ton of other media, I landed a book agent and grew my blog traffic by more than 2000%. I had a case study showing the results I could drive before my career even began.
You don’t always have to build something amazing, sometimes you just have to be a hustler. I had been following Susannah Breslin’s writing for a long time when she announced her Young Female Journalist program. I am not technically a journalist (I mean, I write? Does that count?) and my topic wasn’t earth shattering, yet I still became one of three runners up and featured in two Forbes posts because of it. What made my submission so great? I was one the first to respond.
What did I learn?
There are two paths to success: Create something groundbreaking OR create something “good enough” but move faster than everyone else.
2. Timing is Everything
Everyone knows that your first impression matters, but the timing of your first impression matters most. If you are emailing them right after they tweeted about the huge presentation they have the next day, they probably aren’t going to notice your email and/or have the time to respond. Pay attention to what is going on in their life and time your email efficiently-Twitter is great for this.
3. Bug the hell out of them
In order to stay top of mind you have to be in front of them over and over and over again. I have had many young professionals reach out to me once never to hear from them again. I don’t remember their name and have NO idea where they are today. You know why? They never followed up. You may feel like you are being annoying but they are going to remember you when opportunities come around. They are also more willing to give advice.
Here are three ways to bug mentors efficiently:
- Find a great article-Put “link for you” in the subject line, add a line about why you thought they would like it, keep it short. Repeat often.
- Have a new idea-I have a new business idea everyday. Every business idea I can’t execute gets sent to someone who could. Here is how to have great ideas.
- Share Opportunities-I always introduce people to job opportunities, contest opportunities and people I think they should know. Be a connector.
4. Never ask someone to be your mentor
Being a mentor sounds time intensive. Professionals don’t want to take on more responsibility and they don’t want to agree to something they don’t have time to invest in. Don’t ask them to be your mentor, just ask them for advice when you need it. Keep your questions as specific as possible and they will most likely give you an answer. Read this and learn how to ask good questions.
Do you have any questions about finding a mentor you want me to answer? Leave them in the comments.
Do you have any tips you have used to find a mentor? Leave those in the comments as well.