Question: Name one piece of advice for getting an older or more experienced entrepreneur to mentor you.
"That means do your homework before you ask, know why you're asking, and approach that person from a place of gratitude. If that person has authored books or articles, read them. If he blogs or posts videos, make the time to immerse yourself in those. Then, when you reach out, you're doing so from a place that respects both yourself and that potential mentor."
Hire the Mentor
"I've hired experienced entrepreneurial mentors, and it's always paid off in spades. There's just something that happens when you put money down to receive advice; you actually take the advice and implement it. It also shows the mentor you're committed, and it helps them prioritize the time they spend with you so it doesn't fall through the cracks."
"Demonstrate your potential in an honest way; any experienced entrepreneur can see through bad intentions and selfish motives. Do your best to prove you're worth his time and can offer a fulfilling experience for the both of you. "
Ask for Five Minutes
"I have a theory that you can get just about any entrepreneur to give you advice if you're just asking for five minutes of her time. I approach entrepreneurs I admire with this request, and I often get a "yes." When we do jump on the phone, I always have three questions prepped. I respect the five-minute time limit and say thank-you when time is up."
Get a Warm Introduction
"If there's an entrepreneur you want to meet, getting a warm introduction is absolutely the best way to start a relationship. A friendly intro means you come well recommended by someone he already trusts, and that's usually the biggest hump to get over in the beginning."
Spend Time Together
"Experienced entrepreneurs get asked for help all the time, and they've learned to decline quickly. Instead of a direct request, spend time with him in a non-work setting to get to know him and his personal interests. When you spend time with him as a friend instead of as someone who can help you grow your business, he's likely to end up volunteering to be your mentor."
"If you want someone older and wiser with a higher hourly billing rate to mentor you and give you full attention, you better make it worth his time. Giving even a small piece of your company's equity shows you are serious and genuinely interested in learning from his advice. "
Have Experiences in Common
"Seek out someone who could potentially see himself in you. Look for a mentor who has attended the same school, comes from a similar town or has a similar background. Maybe the similarity you’ll share is a passion within a certain field, or if nothing else, just sheer drive. If you can sell your story to inspire him, it’s likely that he’ll want to help you achieve success the way he did."
"Many experienced entrepreneurs (myself included) are more than happy to give back to the entrepreneurial community through mentorship. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. That said, you want to be careful when you sign on as a mentee. Be sure to set parameters of engagement so as not to overstep your bounds, and be respectful of any help that is generously provided. Don’t take it for granted."
Find Similarities in Your Situation
"People like working with people they like, and they tend to like people similar to them. Try to find similarities and common ground on which to build a relationship. You'd be surprised how similar they are to you and how they will understand the position you're in because they've been in that position before. "
"Be direct, straightforward and respectful. More importantly, realize that being direct and straightforward is being respectful. Experienced entrepreneurs are busy (especially successful ones who are presumably the mentors you're after). They'll respect you for respecting their time. Be very succinct in your request. There's nothing worse than a long-winded email asking for something."
"As you establish a relationship with anyone for help, begin it with a very specific question that he is well-positioned to help answer. Don't start with a general get-to-know-you approach. Start specifically and start small, then once you've established a relationship, you can expand from there. "