Want to Land Key Mentors for Your Startup? Give Them Something of Value
In entrepreneurship, you can often go farther with a little help from a few choice friends and mentors. But don't forget to give, as well as take.
Before I started my latest venture, CrowdCases I spent a year interviewing social entrepreneurs on my blog QuarterWaters. These interviews helped me to build a rapport with them, which then helped me land them as mentors. Their continued support and advice has definitely benefited my judgment in business and their stories of accomplishment are always good for a needed jolt of inspiration. But let's keep in mind how I came to know these key people: I featured them on my blog.
I got to know them, and in the process, they got to know me, as well as my business aspirations. So when the time came to ask people to go to bat for me, the conversation was much simpler.
Here are three ways to get mentors to join your team:
1. Start a blog. While there's nothing new under the sun when it comes to blogging, it's still a vital outlet for your thoughts about life and business. But rather than just your two cents, consider creating a platform that helps other people spread their mission. Interview them, get to know them on a personal level and really care about what they are doing. Show genuine interest. Before you know it you will have somebody that is willing to share advice with you and will want to see you succeed.
2. Interact on their blogs too. From 37 Signal's Jason Fried to serial entrepreneur and author Brad Feld, prominent entrepreneurs and VCs alike (fortunately) put themselves out there all the time. By doing so, they're giving you, my fellow entrepreneurs, a prime opportunity to get their attention. By simply engaging with them in the things they write -- that is, leaving comments and asking questions -- you're not only showing maturity, you're giving them a reason to acknowledge your existence.
3. Send a "thank you" email. Taking this idea a step further, you might also consider cutting to the chase. If you come across an article about (by or involving) entrepreneurs of interest to you, send an email thanking them for sharing their knowledge. Don’t ask for anything, just thank them. If (or hopefully when) they respond, free to let them know what you're working on and ask them a couple of follow up questions. Also, ask if you can keep in touch with them to let them know about your progress.
Networking is key in entrepreneurship, but truly building relationships by adding value is what will get you far.
How did you land your mentor(s)? Let us know your strategy in the comment section.
**Apply Now** Are you an enthusiastic college- or graduate-student entrepreneur, eager to share your on-campus experiences? Apply to be a YoungEntrepreneur.com College Treps columnist.