Finding a mentor has been THEEE single best investment in myself and my business since I became a full-time entrepreneur six years ago.
In this post, I’ll share how I found my mentor on Facebook! I’ll also share the best way to reach out to someone who you’d like to mentor you.
How it all began back in 2011
My mentor is Melissa Dawn Simkins and I’ve looked up to her for almost a decade!
She’s the founder of Velvet Suite, The Brand Leadership Institute, and the She-Suite Community. Her mission is to provide personal brand coaching and executive leadership consulting so you can brand a beautiful life, both personally and professionally!
I first came across Melissa when I was a beauty editor at Essence. Somehow, one of her coaching DVDs ended up on my desk in 2011. (People would send me SO much stuff when I was a beauty editor. Just take a look here.)
I was intrigued so I looked her up Facebook which is how I first connected with her content and business.
It turns out we had quite a few mutual friends on Facebook… and she was also a member of my sorority, Delta Sigma Theta!
I followed her Facebook page and joined her email list. I would occasionally see her posts pop up on my timeline and I began reading her email blasts faithfully in my inbox.
As fate would have it, I later discovered we both were also in a Yahoo Group for Delta entrepreneurs so I would see her posts in that group. I learned that in addition to her personal branding content (which is what that DVD on my desk was promoting), she also owned a marketing firm, Velvet Suite.
How I reached out to Melissa in 2014
Fast forward to 2014 and I was getting ready to quit my job to focus on my business full time. Since I aspired to start a digital marketing firm, I instantly thought Melissa would be the perfect person to shadow.
I sent Melissa an email stating that I would love to support and serve her business, Velvet Suite, at no cost. I just wanted to shadow her and volunteer in any way possible.
Here’s the exact email I sent:
*Note* My tone here is much more personal and informal than if I were reaching out to a completely cold contact, because we had mutual connects and were both on the same Delta Yahoo Group.*
She emailed me right back just a few hours later that same day! After a few emails back and forth over a few weeks, we set a date for a phone call.
That was the spring of 2014… and the rest is history!
We’ve been in touch ever since, and in 2016, Melissa hired me to create some social media content for her company.
Then, I enrolled in her coaching program, the Brand Leadership Institute, and it changed my business. It was so valuable from a branding perspective and helped me to be more intentional about my message and purpose.
Melissa’s firm also hosts the She Suite Summit every year, and I’ve worked as a volunteer for the past four years.
While the event itself is phenomenal, for me, the most valuable part is watching Melissa and being on her team behind the scenes.
Doing the work and being on the ground is my absolute favorite part of the whole event. I love working in the back of the room and seeing the magic unfold on stage and for our guests each year!
If you’re looking for a mentor, here are my top three tips!
1. Find someone doing something similar to what you aspire to… and spend TIME learning about what it is they do
I had been following Melissa online for almost three years before I reached out to her. I joined her email list and read every one of her email newsletters.
I also kept and watched that DVD to learn more about her work and journey.
(And talk about a full-circle moment: I was at Melissa’s house recently and she told me she still had a box of those DVDs in the closet. So she autographed one for me!)
If you can find a common thread between you and your mentor, that’s even better! For example, Melissa and I both love fitness (she competed in a bodybuilding competition around the same time I was training for my Ironman 70.3!)… and we were both in the same sorority. These make good “ice breakers” when you’re just starting to get to know each other.
2. Once you have spent some time reading about your prospective mentor, see if you know someone you trust who can connect you.
I didn’t take this path with Melissa because she and I were both in the Yahoo Group together… so I just replied to one of her posts. BUT, if you’re reaching out to someone and you don’t have a direct connection, see if you can find a mutual connection through another professional contact.
The reason I recommend this is because most of the people you admire have a LOT on their plate. These people are successful for a reason! It takes a LOT of work and TIME. I would much rather have someone I trust make a referral to me than to get a message out of the blue from someone I don’t know.
3. Attend beauty events and network, network, network!
I can’t emphasize this one enough! There’s a high probability that your prospective mentor is attending, hosting, or speaking at an event in the near future. Go on their Instagram page and see if they are posting any flyers from events they will be speaking at or attending.
Once you’re there and you get to meet this person, be humble, proactive, and stand out! I always recommend wearing bright colors because studies show it helps people remember you better.
This is the most important thing: ALWAYS lead with how you can SERVE.
You absolutely do NOT want to start your conversation with, “Hi, I want to know if you can help me get a job? Can I email you about job opportunities that would be a good fit for me?”
A better choice would be, “Hello, I saw on your website that you are launching a new product line in the coming months. I see that you’ll be vending at the Marketplace Fest in Chicago on March 17. Do you need volunteers to work the booth at your pop up? I am available to support for the entire day!”
DING, DING, DING!!
Always lead with how you can SERVE and be SPECIFIC!
I’ve volunteered at Melissa’s event for four years, and just being of service has taught me SO, SO much about business, branding, establishing partners, corporate sponsorship… and soooo much more.
There you have it! I hope this was helpful. Let me know in the comments below.
You can also follow Melissa online and check out her new podcast using the links below:
P.S. If you’re looking for a full list of beauty events where you can network and connect with leaders in our industry, I include an event calendar in my content membership, Beauty Content Pro! Enrollment reopens soon, and you can get on the list here!