Seeking out mentors to work with can be a strategic career move. There is nothing like getting the counsel from someone who has been to where you'd like to go in your career. However, many people out there are going about all wrong.
Every day, I get multitudes of requests from people asking me for help. Most of the time they want me to give them information for free or do them a favor on social media. I truly enjoy helping people. I've had some great mentors that have helped me get over the hump in my career, and I'm glad to pay it forward.
However, with so many requests for help every day, I have to be choosy about who I respond to.
There is a particular type of person that I rule out right away (strangely, it's the most common of all), and that's people who contact me out of the blue asking for help. These are random people that I've never interacted with before online or in person.
They want me to retweet them, help them get on Inc. or Huffington Post, like their Facebook page, give them free social media advice, review their website, quote them in an article, or help them get a job.
I no longer do one-sided relationships. I used to in the past, and it drained me.
The people I make time for anytime they ask for help are the ones who have shown a vested interest in getting to know me. They don't ask for help and send me a thousand links to check out in the initial communication. They show signs of being interested in a two-way relationship and are not out to just take from me.
Add Tons of Value First
Here are seven easy ways you can increase the value to your mentors even if you don't have a lot to contribute.
1) Send an intro on social media and instead of asking for help, offer to help. Ask them, "So, what can I do for you that might help your business?" Don't ask them to like your Facebook page or anything like that in the introduction. Make the intro all about you helping them.
2) Make insightful comments on their posts that encourage others to join the conversation.
3) Share their posts with your networks and tag them each time. Make sure to mention what you gained from each post and how others can benefit as well.
4) Write them a recommendation regarding how their level of thought leadership has impacted you via LinkedIn, Yelp, or Google. Doing so will help your mentor with their personal brand and level of influence.
5) Retweet them on Twitter regularly.
6) Give them a referral. Think of people within your network you can introduce them to who may be interested in buying their services.
7) Mention them in a blog post and cite them as an expert. Then put a link to their website within the post as a hyperlink.
Always Follow Up
Nothing makes a mentor feel unappreciated faster than not following up with them. I'm always amazed at how many people don't follow up.
A while ago, I had a guy hit me up on Twitter at 1:00 AM requesting that I provide him with tips on how he can improve his personal brand and reach a wider audience with his content on social media. It just so happens I was stuck at the airport in Atlanta and bored out my mind, so I thought what the heck, let me try to help this guy. I believe he was shocked when I replied right away.
I spent the next hour chatting with him about his business and giving him advice on how he can better leverage social media. He did thank me. He also assured me he was going to get started on what I told him to do right away and that he would be in touch with me to let me know how it was going.
Then I never heard from him again.