Mentoring in the social sales and marketing world can be critical to your success. However, many people don’t have as many mentoring experiences as they would like. The question becomes: How can you increase the number of mentoring experiences that you have?
Recently I had a discussion about some big do’s and don’ts when it comes to mentoring in the social selling world. Mia Voss, luxury travel writer and brand ambassador of Mia On The Go, discussed some of her mentoring experiences and she shares some great mentorship advice.
What not to ask for from a potential mentor
Trusted relationships take time to build. When it comes to mentoring, you should never ask the other person for something right away. There is a “know-like-trust” route to relationships: first, people need to get to know you. If things go well, they get to like you. When things go great, they start to trust you. They need to get to know you first before they like and trust you enough to offer connections or other valuable things.
What should you do? Ask questions about them instead of asking for something. You can show interest in that person or company in other ways. There are a lot of resources out there to learn about people, such as LinkedIn or any other social platform. Research people up to see if you have similar volunteer or work experiences, know some of the same people, or have other shared activities in common. Any middle ground you can discover will give you great talking points for your conversations.
Mia explains that social platforms such as LinkedIn are like fishing pools; there are a lot of opportunities to engage prospective mentors in a relationship based manner out there. For example, you can like or comment on a person’s or company’s posts. You can offer to volunteer for a company that you would like to learn about working with instead of asking for a job or a sale. You can ask to shadow somebody for a day to see what “a day in the life” is like. Starting a relationship with those questions leads to potentially great mentoring experiences.
If you’re active with content marketing, you can reach out to people and ask to interview them for LinkedIn articles on their area of expertise, mentoring matter blog posts, videos, and/or podcasts. Offering to interview other people and promote them is a highly effective way to reach out to potential mentors.
Introductions to new connections are among the most valuable commodities out there. Reaching out without asking for someone to immediately buy something from you provides eventual access to those commodities.
Here’s how to protect your network and get more out of those valuable introductions:
How to Create Context For New Connections
Mia is a phenomenal networker and connector. She guards the “A-List” portion of her network that people most want introductions to; she doesn’t just make introductions for the sake of introductions. This affirms her mentor’s trust in her because they believe that her introductions will provide mutual value.
A while back, Mia had set up mentoring introductions for one of her interns. Instead of a generic “you two should know each other” introduction, she created context by letting her intern know specifically why she was introducing him to this particular mentor, which was to have an informational interview. She told him that she would introduce him to people so that he could ask them how they became successful – and that’s it. The context was only to learn from and listen to the other person, not to ask for a job or anything else. That context helped fuse the connection between the mentor and mentee.
If you’re asking for a mentoring introduction, let the person know that you only want to learn from the potential mentor, not sell them anything. Clarifying that from the get-go is very important since many people’s first contact with someone is traditionally a sales pitch.
How Not To Fizzle Out After The First Meeting
Oftentimes, you’ll find that you had a great meeting or conversation with a prospect that didn’t end in an immediate sale, and the conversation tends to fizzle out. How can you prevent that? Get a CRM like Nimble to keep track of your last touch point with potential clients, multiple mentors, and referral sources. A great Customer Relationship Management system will also provide you with follow up reminders every month, quarter, or as frequently as you need to reach out and connect with successful mentors.
One easy way to follow up is to simply thank them for their time. A “thank you” goes a long way and is often overlooked. If you promised introductions or other information, be sure to follow through and send them along. If they provided you with introductions or advice, follow up by taking action. After you meet with the people that they introduced you to or after you take action based on their advice, follow up again and let them know what happened and ask new questions if necessary.
Follow up with them and ask who they need to know, and offer to make introductions if you can. This creates that two-way street that we discussed. It also lets them know that you want to become a valued resource to them and that you’re not just interested in helping yourself.
Consistency builds trust while increasing your opportunities for mentoring experiences and introductions that will help you grow your business faster than you could alone.
A Lesson For Mentors
Mentoring is a two-way street and there are things that mentors can do to help strengthen mentoring relationships. While it’s true that mentees need to follow up with a “thank you” after their meetings, the same rule applies to mentors as well. As a mentor, you need to show appreciation for your mentees.
Every mentor can learn something from their mentee(s). Teaching is one of the best ways to learn; that’s an added value for the mentors. You can deepen and expand your learning while you’re teaching. Mentoring helps people grow and when you feel appreciated you flourish, think more clearly, and are more receptive to new ideas.
For outreach to new mentors:
- Show interest in that person or company by following and “liking” their updates on social media
- Offer to volunteer to work for that person or company or ask to shadow them for a day
- DON’T ask for anything but advice at first.
- After you meet the person follow up with a THANK YOU and let them know how you took action with their advice
- Follow up to find out if you can help them and ask new questions to get new advice
With those strategies, you’re ready to go forth and help someone else out.
Isn’t that what mentoring is all about?