How to Find a Mentor. (Part Two)

Typewriter What is Your Story

 

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.

How To Find a Mentor (Part One)

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The thing that has influenced my  entire life the most has been my mentors. Yes, with an “s” as in a whole panel of mentors that have helped me navigate tricky situations, told me to get my sh*t together, brought me new opportunities and taught me mad life skills.

It is no secret that mentors can make you more successful. The majority of executives had mentors in the first five years of their career. On top of that, executives who had mentors made more money at a younger age, are happier with their career and derive greater pleasure from their work. Having a mentor is so essential to your career that everyone is really concerned about professional women’s inability to find mentors. 

I got pregnant with my son when I was seventeen and quickly learned the importance of good mentors. I surrounded myself with a community of moms who could answer my questions, encourage me and help me parent better.

The thing about mentors is that you shouldn’t have just one. When my son was little I would ask five women for advice and then I would take all of their advice, apply it to the situation and assess what made the most sense for my personal parenting style. Getting advice from one person doesn’t offer you options and it  doesn’t give you the freedom to mix your personal philosophy in there. I mean, what happens if you pick the wrong mentor? Totally screwed.

By my Junior year of college I recognized how important mentors had been to my parenting style and started working on creating a board of mentors for my career. My board of mentors now includes CEO‘s, lawyers at Fortune 500 companiesexecutive coachesaward-winning journalistsNielsen power momssuccessful executivesphilanthropy leaderssavvy entrepreneurs and many more smart and savvy professionals.

The problem is that getting a mentor is HARD and building a mentoring board is even HARDER.

The big secret? It is supposed to be hard. People with lots of potential get the best mentors. Becoming a person with lost of potential is hard. Do you have lots of potential?

Great, let’s talk about how you can build yourself a board of mentors.

1. Scout them Out

The first step to finding a mentor is finding people  you want to mentor you. The key to building a great mentoring board is building one full of successful and dynamic people.  This means that you must always be on the lookout for new people to mentor you. When you meet someone new and more experienced than yourself ask yourself two questions:

  • What skills does this person have that I admire?
  • Would those skills help me in my career?

If those skills would help you in your career move to step number two. If their skills probably wouldn’t help you in your career move to step two anyways. While you may not need them on your mentoring board you are a young professional and you probably need them in your network.

2. Get to know them

If someone is intelligent and accomplished they probably receive requests from young professionals all of the time. If you are choosing intelligent and accomplished professionals to add to your board of mentors you need to stand out from the crowd and the best way to do that is by knowing who you are talking to. Luckily, the internet was created for creeping on people.

Read the things that they write, follow them on Twitter, Google them, see where they are leaving comments and who they are talking to regularly.  Learn what they are interested in, what annoys them, what they are needing help with right now and what kind of people they surround themselves with. Don’t just look at what they are saying but read between the lines and try to get an understanding of what makes them “tick,” and why they do the things they do in the way that they do them. (a degree in Philosophy or Psychology helps immensely)

3. Have a skill they are interested in

The idea that a professional would take time to mentor someone with absolutely no personal benefit is insane. Accomplished professionals are never actively seeking more things they can do for people out of the kindness of their hearts. They are busy and if they are smart they are very careful about how they invest their time. Learn about a topic they are interested in or a skill they are trying to learn.

The digital space has changed the way that every single industry works. The problem is that senior professionals rarely have time to stay tapped into this changing landscape, let alone learn everything that they need to know about it. This is a HUGE opportunity for young professionals and one that is often missed. If you can learn all of the in’s and out’s of how digital is changing your industry and gain an interesting perspective about it you will build yourself an “in” with any mentor you seek out.

Build yourself an “in.”

 

50 Ways to Monetize Your Content

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1. Host a course

2. Create a play on start up plays

3. Create a store out of your pins 

4. Launch a paid newsletter

5. Publish an ebook

6. Start a podcast 

7. Start a video series and sell ad spots to brands

8. Host a blogging conference

9. Teach a social media course for local businesses

10. Start a blogger mentoring program to help new bloggers grow their skills

11. Partner with a few of your blogger friends and sell integrated partnerships to brands

12. Become a spokesperson

13. Sell advertising to small businesses

14. Affiliate sales

15. Join an advertising network

16. Sell a sponsored post

17. Become a Brand Ambassador

18. Host a Twitter Party

19. Become a freelance consultant

20. Host a private video series 

22. Get a paid writing gig

23. Raise money on kickstarter 

24. Re-purpose blog content into an ebook

25. Google AdSense 

26. Start a monthly subscription program 

27. Launch a product 

28. Host a webinar 

29. Become a public speaker 

30. Build a blog up and then sell it

31. Create merchandise 

32. Donations and tip jars

33. Join a blog network (One2One and Clever Girls Collective are both great options)

34.  Charge for premium content

35. Start a private forum and charge for access

36. Sell template or wordpress themes

37. Have extra domains? Park advertising on them and make a profit when people land there

38. Create a membership site

39. Sell or rent a single page on your blog

40. Create a paid directory

41. Open a store 

Despite all of my research and brainstorming, I have been unable to think of anymore than 41 ways to monetize a blog. I am so close to fifty that I am leaving it up to you guys. Leave your blog monetizing ideas in the comments and I will add them into this post. Let’s make this happen!

 

5 Major Shifts Happening in the PR Industry

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It’s no secret that bloggers have completely changed the media landscape, that consumer skepticism has driven brands to be more innovative and  that social media has forced companies to reach a new level of transparency.  Over the past few months, I have noticed a few other trends that are driving major shifts in the role of the PR professional.

1.The Internet is killing the “expert.”

Leveraging “experts” has always been a great way to garner earned media coverage for clients. Experts are trusted resources that can organically land media placements while seamlessly plugging brands into the segment. Now that anyone with an Internet connection can share their expertise with the world, the once “trusted expert” is becoming a joke.

Consumers are realizing that anyone can declare themselves an expert making it more challenging to prove an experts credibility. In fact, some experts are beginning to question their own credibility proving that no one is really an expert.

We are all just learning as we go.

Luckily, it is the learning that is the most interesting.

2.  Freelancers are taking over traditional media. 

The internet shook up the traditional media world right around the time the economy collapsed; driving major layoffs across publications. In the first six years of the millennium the number of freelance writers has increased more than 300% with no signs of slowing down. Today, more than 70% of magazine content is written by freelancers.

PR professionals are not only challenged to seek out relationships with freelance writers, but are also challenged to create story angles that publications will buy.

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 3. Statistics are becoming irrelevant.

The growing use of visuals in social media marketing along with the realization that data visualization is a powerful way to break through the clutter and drive consumers to action, has incentivized brands to find new ways to leverage data in their marketing creating a plethora of branded statistics.

In the same way consumers are skeptical about brands that claim to be “natural” or “green,” they are beginning to pay more attention to the statistics they are seeing and what those statistics actually mean. Companies like PayScaleOK Cupid and BirchBox are finding innovative ways to leverage useful statistics to increase SEO, drive buzz and position themselves as experts in their field. 

4. Bloggers forced advertising and editorial departments to talk to each other.

In traditional media, the role of PR has always been centered on garnering earned coverage for their clients. Editors and Journalists churn out massive amounts of content on a daily basis and PR has always been able to provide story inspiration and assets to help create interesting stories.

Many PR professionals approached bloggers in the same way they approach traditional media. What they didn’t realize was that the work of creating content, engaging in social media, and building massive audiences was often a full-time job. Unlike journalists and editors who receive a salary and benefits for their work, bloggers were making little to no money from their sites, which made them wonder why they would promote billion dollar brands for free. Bloggers began requiring compensation for creating branded content and the role of PR changed once again.

Traditional media’s advertising and editorial departments, which were once divided, began to work more closely together. Over the past few years, garnering earned media coverage has become more challenging than ever, forcing PR professionals to become more educated on the business of media channels and find out of the box ways to garner the coverage they need.

 

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5. Content curation put the success of a brand into the hands of the consumer.

Thanks to social media and the growing popularity of content curation,everyday consumers are becoming powerful influencers. Every brand wantsa viral video or a social media campaign that drives major buzz but few brands realize what it takes.

The success of a brand’s content  lies in the hands of their consumers.

Brands are challenged to understand what drives consumers to share content and how they can create the content that consumers will organically want to share.

What other trends are you seeing pop up that are shifting the role of PR?

How to Turn a Hobby into a Business

The hardest part of launching a business is finding the right idea.

Business

The key to a successful business idea is finding the place where your product, customer and goal intersect.

Let me explain. 

1. Set a goal

Every business starts with a goal. Some people want to build a billion dollar empire and others just want to earn some extra spending money. The amount of money you want to earn depends solely on the amount of time you would like to spend working. Once you set a goal you can think of a business that will help you reach that goal.

 2. Create Your Product

There are a million different things you might be able to sell, but you should start by focusing on what you can sell right now. What products or services can you start selling immediately?

Here are some questions you can ask yourself to help find the right idea:

  • What skills do you have that people are trying to acquire?
  • What kinds of products could you create?
  • What kind of work do you want to be doing on a day-to-day basis?

3. Your customer

Build it and they will come was only relevant pre-internet. Now you need to find the customers and build something they will buy.

One of my best friends got pitched by a direct sales skincare company. He was blown away by how much money he could make. All he needed to do was pay $1,500 for his starter kit. The problem? He could only think of 3 people he knew who would pay that price-point for skincare, which means he would be building his customer base from scratch.

Identify ten people in your close network who might be interested in your product, and create a plan for selling to them. These are your very first customers.

Some places you might look for customers:

  • Work
  • Professional Networks and/or Clubs
  • Close friends
  • Community groups (sports, church, etc)

Stay tuned if you are interested in turning your hobby into a business. I will be sharing advice all week in celebration of my new ecourse.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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