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If you’re trying to connect with great mentors, it’s going to take more than a cold email and a prayer. There’s one thing you must have:
When it comes to finding great mentors, the truth is this:
Building real relationships takes time and effort.
If your goal is to build long-lasting relationships with influential people who can help you grow personally and professionally, it’s going to take more than a quick five-minute conversation at a conference.
Yes—the first interaction is important.
You want to make a great first impression, but if you’re expecting to create that long-lasting bond with a potential mentor the very first time you meet them, prepare to be disappointed.
“If I can just ask the perfect question, it’s a lock—we’ll be best friends forever.”
Hate to break it to you, but there is no one perfect question that can instantly create a real relationship that stands the test of time.
But here’s the good news:
There is a three-step formula you can use to meet your dream mentors and build real connections over time.
My formula for finding great mentors
Before we dive into the process, understand one thing:
Without ambition, it doesn’t matter what you do—there will always be someone else who’s outworking you. If you want to find great mentors who are committed to seeing you succeed, you need to be willing to put in the work.
Now let’s break down the three-step process:
- Show up.
- Follow up.
- Follow through.
Show up in order to meet the people you want to connect with, follow up with those people to keep the conversation going, then follow through on what you said you would do.
Skip any of these three steps and your chances of finding a mentor who’s willing to invest in you will drop like a rock.
The first step?
Laying the groundwork.
Step 1: Show up
A great relationship with a mentor who can change your life and your career isn’t going to fall into your lap. If you want to find a mentor, you need to show up.
Go to that local meetup.
Buy a ticket for that conference.
Send an email to that founder, CEO, CMO, etc.
If you never show up in the first place, there’ll be no one to follow up and follow through with. Find the people you want to connect with, and reach out.
You don’t need to craft a perfectly articulated pitch before you show up. Do your research, yes (more on that later), but don’t write up talking points on notecards. The truth is, what you say when you introduce yourself is much less important than just saying something in the first place.
Keep this in mind:
Even though it’s the first step in process, showing up is really only a small piece of the pie. It’s the foot in the door you need to kickstart a relationship, but the real relationship building comes next.
Step 2: Follow up
Congrats—you got through the first step. You’ve laid the foundation for some awesome relationships with awesome people who can help you grow.
Here’s the harsh truth:
You’re one of 100 people they spent a few minutes chatting with last night at the conference. You’re just a name they may or may not remember, and if you don’t keep nurturing this seedling of a relationship, that’s all you’ll ever be to your dream mentors—a face they’ll forget by next week.
Don’t put your feet up and call it a day. If you don’t follow up, someone else will, and your efforts to show up and start a conversation will go to waste.
That doesn’t have to be the case.
To follow up, just send a simple email like this:
“Hey Steli, thanks again for chatting with me last weekend. Based on your advice, I added a few new sections to our pitch deck and we’ve already closed two new deals since!
Quick question: How long would you recommend waiting to hear back from a prospect who asked for time to consider their options?”
You don’t need to send fancy charts or a complex spreadsheet—just let them know you appreciate their advice, tell them how you’re doing and keep the conversation moving.
Step 3: Follow through
You put in the work to show up and meet a potential mentor. You kept the momentum going by following up with a quick thank-you and an update.
Do what you said you would do, and keep them in the loop about it.
If you ask someone for their advice, and they give it—do something with it. That doesn’t mean you have to implement exactly what they suggested, but it does mean you should seriously consider what they said and look for ways to apply their wisdom.
They recommended tweaking your company’s pitch deck?
Update them on the edits you ended up making and tell them how results have changed since then.
They suggested you reach out to a marketing expert for advice?
Let them know you connected with that expert and share some of the advice they gave you.
They shared a few resources to help you out?
Actually read them (seriously—don’t fake it) and send a few follow-up questions you wrote down.
The bottom line is this:
Even if you only talked for 20 minutes, they’ve invested time in you. They were kind enough to offer some advice, so keep in touch to let them know what’s happening.
What’s not working?
What has you most excited?
What are you still struggling with?
If instead you drop off the face of the earth until you want more advice a few months later, good luck maintaining that relationship long-term.
Here’s your homework:
- Create a Dream 20 list of people you want to connect with
Formulate a list of 20 people you would love to build relationships with. They can be startup founders, local business owners, thought leaders in your industry—just find 20 people you want to reach.
- Spend time researching that Dream 20 list
You have 20 names—now start learning as much as you can about each of them. How did they start their careers? What are they writing or talking about most often? What advice would you love to get from them?
Do not speed through this part. If you don’t do your research, you’ll have no clue what to say when you get in touch.
- Find their contact information and reach out
If there’s an opportunity to meet them at a conference or an event, find a way to show up. If not, look for their email online and show up in their inbox. If you’ve done your research, you’ll already know what to say in that first conversation or message.
Do these three things, leave a comment below and tell me how it goes. Remember—always follow up and always follow through.
April 12, 2019 at 02:37PM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs