How Do You Find a Mentor When You Are Stuck in the Boondocks?

JB, a young man I met at AWAI’s Copywriting Bootcamp last year, wrote to ask me about finding a mentor. “Due partially to the fact that I live in a sparsely populated, rural area, I am almost entirely devoid of personal contacts. That obviously makes it hard for business, but I also need someone whom I can occasionally bounce ideas off of.”

He wondered if I knew anyone who could answer questions occasionally. “Not even necessarily a mentor. Just someone knowledgeable and able to spare a bit of time here and there.”

If JB were sitting in my office right now, I’d ask him what he has done so far to find the help he’s looking for. Has, he, for instance…

  • Gone on the AWAI and ETR online forums and asked for help?
  • Done the same thing on my blog?
  • What about all the other business websites, blogs, and Internet networks out there? Has he searched them for help?
  • And if he has made some attempts, how many has he made? Hundreds? Or just a few?

Nothing worth having in business is likely to be easy to get. And it’s certainly not going to fall in your lap. JB deserves credit for writing to me for advice. But he is perfectly aware that I don’t have time to mentor him. (I tell conference attendees that every time I speak.) He’d be better off investing his time in asking for help from people who are closer to his age and/or situation. Such people are all over the World Wide Web. If he tries to find them, he will.

Let me put it this way. Let’s say JB started devoting two hours every day to searching the Internet, talking to people, posting advertisements, seeking what he wants. What is the likelihood that he wouldn’t find help if he did that for 50 days in a row? What, in other words, are the chances he would fail?

My guess is less than two percent. And I’m talking about an investment of only 100 hours. Devoting 100 hours to getting smart people to help you make good decisions is a very small investment. If JB isn’t willing to do that, then he’s got bigger problems than being stuck in the middle of a briar patch.

One little hint for JB: When requesting help, be sure to write your letter as you would a sales message. Don’t talk about yourself and what you need. Talk about the benefits your mentor will get from working with you.

[Ed. Note: Michael Masterson’s New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Business Week best-selling book, Ready, Fire, Aim: Zero to $100 Million in No Time Flat, offers dozens of insights into creating and growing a profitable business. Do you have your copy yet?] [Ed. Note: Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]