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How to Pick Influencers and Land Your Mentors Be real, be valuable, and be bold in your attempts to connect.

By Dan Dowling Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Brace yourself. You're about to read the worst advice of all time: Be above the influence.

It sounds good -- good enough to be the featured slogan for anti-pot campaigns in the 90s. But you're human. Influence is your nature, and it's how you survive. If you were above the influence, you never would've learned to laugh at jokes, or to imitate speech, or to avoid pain, or to seek love.

Since you're not immune to influence, it's time to plan for better influencers. You don't have to put up with small-acting people. And the more selective you get, the richer you become -- just ask millionaire Peter Voogd, author of 6 Months to 6 Figures and founder of Game Changer's Academy.

Voogd's story.

After months of scrimping so badly he couldn't afford takeout, Voogd was fed up. So he formulated a 6-step plan for financial freedom. Not only did the plan work for Voogd, it's also changing young entrepreneurs' lives around the globe through his academy. The plan is fail-safe if you put in the work.

Related: Keys to Wealth, Success and Influence From a Young Entrepreneur

The first step is to find clarity on who and where you want to be in the next six months -- no surprise there. But millions of people have that clarity, and they've had it for years and years with zero results. The same was true for Voogd. He knew the road to take. He knew who he wanted to be. But he was missing the second crucial step to bring his vision to fruition -- shift your circle of influence.

"If you want to be a millionaire, hang out with billionaires; you'll get there faster." This quote inspired Voogd to take immediate action in expanding his circle of influence. He didn't let his head hit the pillow before he came up with five millionaire influencers. He reached out to them all within a week, and he landed his mentor within a month. Within six months, Voogd found himself with 6-figures sitting in the bank. His improved circle of influencers was the catalyst. "If you hang around five millionaires, you're gonna be the sixth," Voogd says.

In his Eventual Millionaires podcast episode, Voogd mentions that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. And it's not just Voogd; it's Jim Rohn, Tony Robbins, Tim Ferriss and anyone who's found success.

So reflect on your five closest peeps. Do they live the life you aspire for? Do they embody the traits that breed success? Will they bring out the millionaire entrepreneur you know you can be, or will they keep you cozy where you're at?

Most people unconsciously choose their influencers based on comfort and ease of connection. Slackers have low expectations, which makes for easy association. But nothing is free; you purchase their company at the expense of your higher self. Hustlers and achievers, on the other hand, will propel you toward your dreams. But you've got to bring them value. Otherwise they won't have time for you.

Related: 6 Influencer Secrets From Oprah, Tim Ferriss and Tony Robbins

So search out 10 people who are already living the life you project for yourself in six months. Then come up with an angle for connecting with and bringing value to them.

How to connect with influencers and find your mentor.

Take this article for example. I'm a writer who wanted to increase his circle of influence. Since I write about entrepreneurship, I decided that I could add value for my audience and give something to Voogd at the same time.

I wrote an article featuring his advice -- the very one you're reading -- which will be viewed and shared by thousands of people and will increase sales for Voogd's books and programs. I share value. Voogd appreciates it. Presto -- we're connected. By the way, I love Voogd's work, and I think it's valuable, so I'd share it anyway. But why not make a valuable connection at the same time?

If writing's not your forte, there are a thousand other angles to approach your influencers. Interview them on a podcast. Add to their conversations on social media. Look them up on Facebook or Twitter. Ask them to be your mentor. If you present yourself as an ardent admirer of someone's work, if you promote their value over your social networks, if you reach out with the sincere desire to learn and to grow -- no influencer will brush you aside. But you have to be genuine.

Reading one entrepreneur's article and gushing about how awesome he or she is won't get you anywhere. It's not valuable. But detailing how you've improved your life through their work will create a warmth that can't be blown off. Entrepreneurs are looking for real connections with real people. So be real, be valuable, and be bold in your attempts to connect. If you persist, you will get exactly what you need.

Related: 5 Predictions to Guide Your Marketing Plan in 2017


After you've become crystal clear on who you want to be and how you'll get there, take Voogd's advice and focus on your circle of influencers. Increase the time you spend with go-getters, and decrease the time with complacent types. Reach out to your top 10 influencers. Keep bringing them value until they'd be foolish to refuse you.

In the meantime, you can crystallize your intention of connecting with influencers by devoting one hour a day to their articles and podcasts. But don't stop there. Take their inspiration and channel it into creative work of your own, then share it with as many people as possible. Your influencer might just come to you. (It happened to me.)

To delve into the rest of Voogd's steps, check out his book. You can also view his podcast on Eventual Millionaire for more information.

Dan Dowling

Solopreneur, writer, and coach

As a former couch-surfing millennial turned solopreneur writer and coach, Dan Dowling writes on personal development. Visit and learn how to create your own solopreneur success story.

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