When I launched DailyWorth in January 2009, I projected that we'd reach 25,000 daily readers by our one-year anniversary. By the end of that year, we had only 1,000.
Scratching my head, amused by my inflated expectations, I began to search for mentors—successful entrepreneurs familiar with our business model, many of whom are listed on this Email Mafia blog post.
So I cold-called Jen Boulden, founder of Ideal Bite, a daily email about eco-living, which was bought by Disney for a cool $20 million in 2008.
In my first phone conversation with her, she was unimpressed with my “traction,” and rushed to get off the phone. After many months of careful courting, she agreed to help me, and she’s been my mentor ever since.
I recently asked Jen: How do entrepreneurs break through the noise to get help from successful people like you? Jen answered:
- Never fire off a cavalier email that says, "I was hoping you could give me just 20 minutes of your time...." It sets the wrong tone.
- Make meaningful connections. Yes, it takes longer, but you can figure it out. Use LinkedIn, figure out what you can do for them, and approach them in a way that expresses why you admire them AND what they might get out of the relationship (it doesn't have to be money or stock, but it might be, if you are coming in without a strong referral).
- Prove your potential. When Amanda first came to me, I did rush her off the phone by telling her that her where her numbers should be, and giving her a very cursory clue on how to do it. I said, "Call me in 3 months if you get there." And she did call. Three months to the day. With the great news that she followed my advice and grew her numbers. So at that point I knew I would be working with someone that could not only hear advice but also be able to know how to use it. And as a mentor, that's rewarding.