How to Find a Sales Mentor on LinkedIn
Recently I wrote an article suggesting ways to develop intuition. I presented it from the perspective of being able to pick up on a prospective client’s energy so that we know how far to take the sales conversation. The article was well received.
One of my suggestions was to find a mentor who can provide you with feedback. This prompted a number of comments and emails from people asking how best to identify a mentor on social media when first starting out.
I would like to offer the following suggestions:
1) Devote the necessary time to nurturing a mentor relationship
From my perspective, LinkedIn is one of the best places to find and nurture those connections.
2) Identify a potential mentor based on contribution to the community—both online and offline
Browse LinkedIn Pulse channels to see who is writing about the areas for which you want mentorship. Most mentors are leaders. Most leaders are readers, and many readers are also writers. They simply want to share their stories and experiences—good and bad—with the world.
3) Click on people’s profiles
I often hear people say, “I don’t want to look like a stalker.” My suggestion is to suck this one up. That idea, rooted in fear, is more a reflection of you than a reflection of the person you are exploring. Most leaders have no problem with people looking at their profiles. Instead, they see such views as signs that they are contributing.
When you look at someone’s profile, observe the progression in his or her history, how each move built on the next. Look at the person’s endorsements. When LinkedIn first rolled out endorsements, the community had mixed feelings about them. I embraced them. When you look at endorsements at a macro level, you can get an idea of a person’s profile and what their peers know them for. Do you see leadership traits? Look at how they give back to the community, in terms of volunteer work, board memberships, and so on. Most leaders and potential mentors give back to their local communities somehow.
4) Start by following rather than connecting to the person
Following is an unobtrusive way of staying updated on someone’s activity.
5) Contribute to the person’s life
Comment on the person’s posts, statuses, changes, and so on. Operate in some of the same circles as she or he does. Use your instinct, your intuition, to gauge the appropriate level of attention. It is important to contribute to the person’s life, but it is also important to avoid being overbearing, especially at this early stage.
6) After you have been of service, reach out and connect with the person
Rather than sending the default generic request, customize the invitation. Suggest that you have been following his or her contributions and learning from them. Cite specific examples if possible. When the person accepts your invitation, send an article or two that you think could make his or her life easier.
7) Ask for a one-on-one interaction
If the person is located near you, offer to take him or her out for coffee or lunch. Otherwise, ask if they’d be willing to chat on the phone. Share specific questions with them in advance so he or she can be prepared. If the phone call goes well, find a reason to visit their location. Invest in your future, and do not be afraid to fly or take a bus or train to their city. Just 30–60 minutes sitting and listening to a leader can take your sales career to an entirely new level.
If you follow these suggestions, you will be well on your way to finding the mentor you deserve. Stay committed to the process, and you’ll nail it.