Raise your hand if you’ve ever heard “the story” of a guy who sent an employer a shoe with a note that said, “now that I have my foot in the door.”
Raise your hand if you’re really sick and tired of hearing that story.
While we can’t deny the effectiveness of that attempt, trying it now might not result in the desired outcome. More often than not, when people want to meet their idol, snag an interview or land a mentor, they send a half-assed email that neglects to get the job done.
There are other more subtle – but just as effective – ways to get in front of someone you admire:
1. Send a handwritten note
Want to know how many handwritten notes I’ve received this year? One. From my grandma on Christmas. Want to know how many handwritten notes that industry idol of yours has probably received? One. From their grandma on Christmas.
Let’s take it a step further – how many emails do you think they’ve received this year asking for some favor/coffee/Skype/interview? A million billion, that’s how many.
Meaning a handwritten note is the best way we can possibly think of to stand out from the crowd, make an impression and seem sincere in your admiration, all without looking like an asshole.
A great time to send something is after seeing your idol speak or meeting them at an event. Send a quick note (to their office; don’t be creepy) saying how much you enjoyed hearing them speak and how you love everything they do. Be genuine here.
2. Make friends with their assistant
Never, for a second, forget who runs the joint. If your dream mentor has an administrative or personal assistant, you absolutely need to be their best friend. This is important because a) they transfer the calls and can make your life infinitely easier and b) can give you all the inside knowledge.
I don’t mean “make friends” like, be nicer than usual, but actually make friends. Find them on LinkedIn or Twitter or Facebook and invite them out for a drink. Be honest. Say you really admire their boss and would love to learn more about the industry and what it’s like to work for Hotshot X.
This has a 50/50 chance of working as there is some serious creep-sounding potential. But it’s worse to try and make friends with someone only for them to feel used and abused later on. Telling it like it is and getting in with the office in a genuine way can make all the difference.
3. Comment on their blog
A few years ago, when I was looking for a job in publishing, I made a point to read every publishing blog out there. I read, shared, commented and met in person all the bloggers I could. Through one little blog comment, I met a guy who ran a major publishing website. And through that comment I landed my first-ever freelance writing gig.
This is the power of comments. It’s more than just putting your name in front of someone you admire. It’s more than just sending an email. Commenting on someone’s blog shows you read what they write and care about their opinion – and that you have something valuable to share of your own.
Become a regular commenter and you become part of their community. And trust me, bloggers notice when a name comes up on every post. On my own site, I let commenters guest post, answer their emails before anyone else’s and many have become close personal friends. Meaning if you want to be seen, start on the blog first.
How did you end up meeting someone awesome you really admired? How did you meet your mentor? What other tips can you add to this list?