Imagine walking into a coffee shop in the big city. You’re anxiously awaiting your companion because you’ve never met face-to-face before. Imagine that person (your favorite author or artist) walking in, cool as can be and looking you in the eyes, smiling as s/he walks toward your table. You are going to be able to spend time with one of your dream mentors.
You are being given this time because of the connection you were able to make.
Reaching out to someone who inspires you is an art form. Whether you want to give your favorite author accolades or tell your favorite rock star that they’ve changed the way you look at life because of their music, there is a tried-and-true method when it comes to connecting. I’m here to teach you how to make and maintain life-changing connections.
You’ve got to figure out who out there has empowered you in a way that you’ve never felt before. Whether that person blows your mind through their actions or art, I’m sure there is at least one person on this planet who has made your skin tingle with excitement because of the way they have imparted with you a piece of their world. Something magical happens when a person infuses their energy into their work and it speaks to your soul.
I’ll share a nugget of wisdom from one of my favorite experiences. I was obsessed with a book. More specifically, I was obsessed with Michael Ellsberg’s The Education of Millionaires. By the way, if you’ve never read it, GO READ IT! The way in which Michael communicated the way self-made successful millionaires navigated their way through the upper echelons of the business world empowered me to feel as though I could do it, too.
No author, living or dead, had ever impacted me the way Michael did with his work. I found a way to tell him so. In my case, I utilized social media by way of Facebook. I just had to tell him how much his book meant to me so I sent him a message. I didn’t just thank him for writing his book; I told him how I came about it (by way of fate, if I’m being honest), and praised him for being so enlightening in his unapologetic approach to writing about formal education and how others have become successful without it. He graciously responded to my messages and to this day, I consider him one of my most highly regarded mentors.
When it comes to approaching someone you admire (or anyone you feel compelled to start a conversation with), always, always, always…come from a place of gratitude and humility. Although you feel emboldened and empowered by their work, ask them how you may help them pay their work forward by explicitly asking what more you can do to elevate what they’ve created.
Remember, especially when it comes to networking, your job is to give, give, and give, without expecting anything in return.
Most people who have written or performed work for public consumption utilize social media. Use Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc., to reach the people you admire the most. Chances are high that one of “their people” is moderating those platforms, but if you come from a genuine place and make an impression with your outreach, they will respond positively.
If that person shies away from social media, find a way to reach them. Email their marketing team if you need to. Call Toll Free number and leave a voicemail. Remember that you and other people like you are the reason they found their voice and bravely used it – to inform and inspire.
Whenever I write an email, regardless of whose work I’m praising, I make it a point to be grateful for the time they’ve spent reading what I’ve written as well as to thank them for what they’ve done in order to inspire me.
Don’t just be satisfied with reaching out and making an impression on the person you reach out to. Follow through and maintain the connection. Keep an ongoing dialogue about their most recent work; keep them updated on the way you’ve kept up with their evolving voice and how you’ve improved as a person because of it. Make your presence valuable and let them know about your growth, thanks to them. Be specific. Ask them how you may be of service to them.
Extend yourself just as they did.
When it comes to life changing connections, there are four things you must remember when you are establishing them.
- Connect with people whose work has rocked your world and inspired you.
- Make a positive impression on them by genuinely coming from a place of gratitude and service.
- Keep up with that person. Everyone evolves and chances are, their work will evolve in the same direction as your growth. Let them know and remind them that you are there with them every step of the way.
- Finally, consistently be of service. Not just to that person, but also to those whom you feel made your life better in any way. Chances are you aren’t the only one, but if you are genuine in your words and actions, the Universe will respond in a big, positive way.
How have you met your mentors? What questions or concerns do you have about finding your own?