No, you don’t need networking skills to make amazing connections! You can begin right now, even if you feel like you have nothing to offer.
We’ve all heard it: networking is a key factor for success – whether you’re looking for a new job, expanding your client base, reaching out to investors, and so on.
And we can’t argue with that! Networking truly is an important part of every successful journey.
But what if your journey is just begging and you feel like you have nothing to offer?
Well, here’s the secret. Everyone wants to be part of a success story.
That’s where the “Mentor Method” comes in.
In this article, we’ll walk you through a step-by-step guide that will help you make connections, even if you have zero networking skills.
If you want, you can skip to the following sections here:
- What Is The Mentor Method
- How To Make Valuable Connections With Zero Networking Skills
- 3+ Free Resources To Start Networking Today
Let’s dive in!
What Is The Mentor Method?
If you were born between the XX and XXI centuries, you’ve obviously heard of Luke Skywalker – even if you haven’t seen Star Wars (which, if you haven’t, you totally should… just saying).
In Episode IV, we’re introduced to Luke and his mentor, Obi-Wan Kenobi. Obi-Wan is committed to serving as Luke’s role model, advising him, and training him to become a Jedi Knight.
Even if you’re not a Star Wars fan (sigh), you’ve probably seen this dynamic in movies like Rocky, Miracle, and even Dodgeball. You’ve got a person who has an aspiration but is struggling to achieve it. They find someone who will guide them, challenge them, and push them to the edge until they’ve achieved their goal.
Do you get what I’m saying?
You need to find your Obi-Wan. Your mentor.
Here’s where you’ll start.
How To Make Valuable Connections With Zero Networking Skills
I know networking can seem a bit daunting, especially if you feel like you have nothing to offer. But don’t worry: you won’t have to go to any events or conferences and meet face-to-face with a complete stranger.
Instead, you’ll start with a much more introspective task, which is:
1. Brainstorm two actions you could take that are related to your mentor’s field
Begin by taking an action related to your mentor’s field.
Let’s say, for instance, you’ve picked a professor from your university to be your mentor. Maybe you could take a course related to their field of study.
That connection you follow on LinkedIn? They can be your mentor, too. Maybe you could read a book that relates to the topics of the content they publish.
You don’t necessarily have to take new courses or hit the books, though. You could also get a certification, start a new project, do volunteer work… anything, really!
Once you’re done with that, then you’ll…
2. Reach out to this person, note their experience, and ask them for advice
If you feel like you have nothing to offer while networking, then ask the person you are connecting with what they have to offer instead!
The best way to do so is by asking them a “This or That” advice. You'll want to give them two options to choose from, e.g. “If I want to be a better marketer, should I read Book A or take Course B?”
For instance, suppose you've picked a successful local entrepreneur to be your mentor. You could approach them via LinkedIn with the following message:
Hi there, Will,
I hope your week is off to a lovely start! My name is Ann, and I've recently come across the news that Quantum Developments is launching a new real estate project that integrates homes, offices, and a shopping mall. Congratulations on this remarkable milestone for Quantum Developments! I'm looking forward to seeing how this mixed-use development transforms the urban landscape and fosters a vibrant community.
As an architect who aspires to work for innovative mixed-use and sustainable urban developments, what advice would you give me to enhance my skills and knowledge to contribute effectively to similar groundbreaking projects? Should I focus on gaining more practical experience in sustainable design and urban planning, or should I pursue further specialized education in mixed-use development and green building certifications?
Thanks in advance. I look forward to hearing back!
Notice how this person starts their message by acknowledging their mentor's experience with a recent event and then lays down options to gather a piece of advice. You can use a similar framework to approach your mentor!
3. When they give their answer, thank them and get to work!
Once you've heard back, thank them for their time, take their advice, roll up your sleeves, and start acting on it! You might want to keep a diary of your experience and take note of the lessons and challenges you'll be coming across along the way.
Most importantly, make sure you have results to show for it.
4. When you’re done, follow up with them
Reach out to them again and thank them for their advice. Let them know you took action on it and then share your results. Finally, and most importantly, ask them for more advice!
By taking action, you're telling them their advice is valuable.
Picking up on the example above, the follow-up message could look something like this:
I hope this message finds you well! A few months back I reached out to you seeking career advice about working on mixed-use and sustainable urban developments. I wanted to let you know that I've taken your advice and focused on gaining more practical experience by volunteering in a community-led urban regeneration project in a historic district.
At first, I found that integrating modern and sustainable solutions to a heritage-sensitive area was quite a challenge, especially while also trying to navigate stakeholder engagement. The solution I found to get around this was by leading a series of participatory design workshops to align the stakeholders' interests, which contributed to creating an urban design framework that was both respectful of the district's heritage, but also forward-looking in its environmental approach!
My next step in this volunteer work is designing a pilot project for a smart neighborhood using solar energy. Would you by any chance have any additional advice to share on this specific subject?
Once again, thank you for your time and attention!
By sharing your results and showing your interest in continuous learning, you're proving that you're someone worth investing in.
Everyone wants to be part of a success story. Give this person the opportunity to be part of yours.
3+ Free Resources To Start Networking Today
To help you get started, check out these three helpful networking resources:
- How To Network: 4+ Real Strategies For Connecting The Right Way: This comprehensive guide will show you 4+ strategies to help you connect with anyone. Hop over to this link to get started.
- 6 Cold Email Writing Tips To Help You Get Responses: This guide is going to help to get past that first line and rock your email writing skills! Head over to this link for more.
- Maisscoop.io | Free E-mail Finder: This free tool will help you find anyone's e-mail in just a few seconds. Check it out.