Be My Mentor? Craft the Perfect Message to Someone You Admire


Let's say it's a done deal, you finally decided to reach out to that person, professional, expert in your industry who you admire so much. The purpose? Simple, and at the same time complicated, you want them to agree to be your mentor.

How did you find them or got their contact information is not a matter of this article. Today it's all about making that person write back that phrase all entrepreneurs and professionals want to hear, "Yes, I'll be your mentor."

To get there, I'll help you craft the perfect introductory message to ensure your odds are much higher than anyone else.

How do you make your message as irresistible as an Ad they have to click on?

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Whether you're sending an email or contacting your potential mentor through a social platform, there's one thing that will separate your message from all the others they are likely receiving in their various inboxes.

It is the subject line on an email or the preview of the entire message on some social platforms. Whatever it is, attention is the name of the game when it comes to them actually giving you the time to plead your case — So how do you go about getting it?

Keep the subject line short but eye-catching, hopefully creating something they don't see every day in their inbox. On that note, something that works wonders is to reference something from their professional or personal life.

You might include an obscure work or blog post they did, for example, "Inspired By Your Research on XYZ", or finding a recent accomplishment to congratulate them on.

LinkedIn is a great tool to get started with your research, and companies' websites and open profiles on platforms like Instagram and Facebook could also do wonders.

That being said, this is what we would call a cold outreach when you don't have any connection to your potential mentor. But let's ask a different question, what if you do have some relation or connection to said person?

Then the whole thing turns into a warm-outreach, which dramatically increases the chances of getting a reply.

If someone they know gave you their contact information, then name-dropping that person in the subject line, like for example "From Molly Ford's Friend", could do wonders to get their attention instantly—only, of course, if you know that they know and have a positive relationship with that person.

Another old trick in the book is to use LinkedIn connections to simulate a warm outreach. Oh, this works wonders too, and simply finding a mutual connection between your profiles is all you need to implement this tricky but not spammy approach.

Customize your subject line to something resembling “about our mutual connection, Anna” and then begin your body text explaining how you found them and why you are reaching out. Word of warning though, never lie.

You want to create trust, so they will probably be appreciative of you acknowledging that you just found them through your mutual connection's profile instead of a direct reference.

Step N'2 Creating Rapport

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Let's say you got their attention with your fantastic opener. Now it's time to generate some interest and likability. Throughout years of working on the cold email space, we've realized that nothing works better than complimenting someone's work to get some rapport going — And I mean specifics:

You don't want to be that guy saying, "your work is amazing," as if you had a clue about what they've been up to. We want to be crystal clear on whatever we call their attention to and why we appreciate it.

Tell them specific reasons why you're interested in their work. Bonus points if they aren't the things they are typically known for—for example, if they are currently writing nonfiction but used to write poetry, you could include a reference to one of her favorite poems that you enjoyed.

Specific references to their work will help differentiate your fan letter from others and show that you've really done your research.

It's also helpful to mention what you and this person have in common. Beyond professional interests, don't be afraid to talk about hobbies—say that you've traveled to the same places, are from the same region of the world, or both like to fry fish, anything you would know from regular researching or a book review.

Again—be genuine and honest. If you spend three paragraphs telling them how much you loved an obscure book they wrote in the early 80s that you've only skimmed once, and they ask you to meet, it will become instantly obvious you lied (if it wasn't already evident in the email).

The grand finale, Asking for what you want (nicely)

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After all, someone can't help you unless they know what you want. So if you are looking for a marketing mentor, say that. And you wish to get invited to their speaking conference, say that. You might not get exactly what you want—but you won't get anything if you don't ask.

There are a couple of polite steps to follow in this instance. Firstly, you want to state what you want clearly, I mean crystal clear, no room for confusion. Secondly, you want to give the person reading the message “an out”.

Yeah, remember that even with a perfectly crafted message that you should be able to create after watching this video, there's still a chance to get ignored or entirely rejected. But hey, it's about increasing our odds of success, so focus on what you CAN control.

On that note, remember that this mentor—and anyone else you email—is busy, and they might not have time to honor your request. So include what'll I call an “out” so they can decline without feeling awkward.

For example, “I am looking for a marketing mentor and would be honored if you would meet with me once a month. But I know you are incredibly busy, so if this isn't possible, would you be willing to answer some questions over the phone?”

See how smooth that is? You have outlined a way for them to say no in a comfortable yet polite manner, while also increasing your chances for success with a clear ask.

Quick Tips And Recommendations

Quick tip #1

Keep it short and sweet. You know how you always feel that you don't have enough time to do what you want? Well, my friend, so does everyone else.

We're all busy, so keep your message short so that it will feel both easy for them to read and less of a chore for them to respond. And a quick, helpful fact, people usually, consciously or not, try to keep email responses the same approximate length as the message they're answering—so if you write a short novel, you can bet they're going to dread having to come up with a response that doesn't feel curt or rude.

Quick tip #2

Say thank you. And I mean always. Both at the end of the email and if you get a response. I can't stress this enough. People love to help others out, but they also love to be appreciated for their efforts. And thanking them for their time in advance will go a long way in building a long-term relationship.

Bonus Tip

Tidy up and make your social media profiles look presentable, or irresistible if you can. It's no news that now, more than ever, people can find out a lot about it by just clicking on your profile on social media. So let's imagine they do. Are they going to find a party animal? Or a presentable, charming person they would like to meet.

Don't go crazy over this, but just clean up everything you wouldn't like other people to see as a first impression.

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