Mentorship relationships don’t always have to be formal relationships. Sometimes they can be as simple as “if I have a question, can I send you an email?” relationships. While individually these relationships might not change your life, having a whole Rolodex of these kinds of mentors can make a big difference.
So how can you build up this network of informal mentors?
Show up in the right places.
Getting your foot in the door to meet mentors can be tough. Here are a few different ways to do it.
First, talk to your lawyer and your accountant. Hire the best lawyers you can, even if you don’t need their legal services yet. Why? Do it for the network. The best lawyers also have high-level clients. Have them do the introductions for you.
Another way you can make contact with successful individuals is through social networking. Many CEOs today run their own Twitter feeds. Retweeting their messages and @replying to them can help build up a relationship so you can eventually drop them an email.
You can also make it a point to attend conferences and trade shows. Meet influencers in person, build a connection and ask them for mentorship face to face.
The key to making a great impression on a potential mentor is through authenticity.
Imagine for a moment what the world is like from the eyes of influential people. A lot of people want your attention, but the vast majority of them want your attention so they can get something from you.
You never know when people are approaching you out of the genuine desire for connection or friendship, or if they have an ulterior motive.
Because this is the reality of what it’s like to be extremely successful, successful people tend to have walls. The only real way around these walls is to be genuine and authentic.
If you’re nervous about meeting them, say so. If you’re building a business and want their help, be upfront about it. Don’t pretend to be their friend with an ulterior motive; be 100% honest from the get-go.
Make reasonable requests
Don’t go overboard with your requests. Your requests for mentorship should be relatively straightforward and shouldn’t require much of a commitment from your mentor.
Ask them if you can send them an email if you ever have a question in a specific arena. You can also ask if you could do a quick phone call with them at some point.
Don’t ask for extended mentoring relationships unless you build a real connection.
Repeat this process again and again and you’ll gradually amass a Rolodex of successful people in different areas that you can contact if you ever get stuck in your business.