A lot of young professionals get it wrong when they want to, with their networking skills, get a mentor or secure a job. I know it can be frustrating to be ignored when you reach out to people, but rather than give up or conclude that these people are proud, you should check out your approach.
As an HR professional and career coach, I get tons of messages for various purposes. I’ve also been at the point early in my career where I reached out to people and got ignored, until I took a different approach.
Here are a few suggestions:
When you have identified someone that you admire and would like to approach for mentorship, or just for connection sake, start by following the person on all social media platforms. Don’t be a stalker. Be that active fan who contributes sensible and valuable comments on their posts.
LinkedIn, for instance, has a way of increasing your visibility when you regularly engage in people’s post. Other big professionals see your post and connect with you because you’re perceived to be a valuable connection.
Over time, you will get noticed by that person and others in their network. When you start getting likes and feedback on the comments, this is the best time to:
There are three approaches you can take: physical meet-up, Direct Message, and similarity route.
Direct Message Route: When you want to send a DM, be ready to communicate value in the discussion. It shouldn’t be all about what you stand to gain (so you don’t sound like a leech).
Most people feel they don’t have value just because they don’t have experience. But I’m sure if you dig deep, you will find something. Here is a sample of what you can send to someone for mentorship (feel free to tweak based on your intent):
I trust you’re doing well. I decided to reach out to you because while drawing out my career plan for the next five years and writing a detailed one for 2019/2020, I decided to search for some of my LinkedIn contacts who are where I would like to be in at least 5-10 years from now. I have gone through your profile and would like to commend you on your career progress over time (mention specific achievements). I would like you to be a mentor to me in (*insert career path*). I have a lot of potential, as I have been able to achieve a lot in a short while in my career.
I know you are a very busy person, but I can guarantee this mentorship would go both ways and I will do my best to only reach out when necessary.”
This involves attending an event that you’re sure the person will be attending or speaking at (from stalking the person). Introduce yourself and commend them on their efforts. They should recognise your name if you have been engaging well as advised earlier.
This involves connecting with the person through the similarities you both have. For example, if you attended the same secondary school/university, have similar hobbies (chess player), belong to similar groups, etc. The point of this is to leverage on an existing ladder. This person would have something to say to you based on the similarity.
There are things you should never do when approaching someone:
- Do not say hi, hello, or any random chat message and wait for the person to respond. No one has time for petty messages. Just go straight to the point.
- Do not ask for a job, CV review, or immediate favour at the beginning of your chat. You are to first build a relationship with the person, and when the person knows you better, job opportunities will come out from it.
- Don’t make it all about you. That can be a huge turn-off
N.B: Not everyone will respond to you. For some, it may have gotten lost in their inbox (don’t hesitate to resend it). For some, they genuinely don’t have the bandwidth to accommodate your request. Just move on and you will eventually find someone willing to help you.
With these tips, I’m sure you will be able to leverage your network to get ahead in your career.
I would like to hear feedback on how you implement this, and how it works for you. Also, shoot me your struggles so I can help proffer solutions. Check out my email in my bio.
I sincerely wish you the best on your career journey.