Every Friday, we’re answering your questions about business, startups, customer success and more.
In our new Groove Friday Q & A segment, we’re answering any questions that you have about, well, anything.
A huge thank you to Jarrod Zimmerman, James McBryan and Blaze A. for this week’s questions.
Check out this week’s answers below, and jump in with your own thoughts in the comments!
How do you keep mentors engaged after a first meeting?
This comes back to the most important part of connecting with mentors in the first place: standing out from the crowd.
There are two things that you can do, after meeting with someone and asking them for help, that will make you stand out:
1) Follow up with emails
Immediately after meeting with a mentor or advisor, send them a “thank you” email.
But don’t just thank them. Tell them exactly what it was that you appreciated about their advice, and exactly what next steps you plan to take to implement their feedback.
Surprisingly, most people don’t do this. They either send a simple “thanks for the meeting,” or, worse, completely disappear!
And then, once you’ve put their advice into action, email them to let them know exactly how it went, and what you plan to do next. This is a great opportunity to ask for more help.
The people with whom you’d want as your mentors are typically busy, and their time is in high demand; they want to know that it’s being used wisely.
Not following up is a sure way to make it seem like you don’t value the time that they gave you.
2) Continue to deliver value
On a more general level, the “deliver value” part of connecting with mentors is not a one-time thing to get them in the door.
You should continue delivering value in any way that you can.
Put a note in your calendar to carve out time and work on doing something valuable for your mentors every 90 days.
- Do you have a particular skill that the potential mentor might not have (i.e., coding, design, SEO, etc…)? Offer to apply it to help on their business or side project.
- Can you think of an idea that would improve their business? Send it over.
- Do you know anyone that the person might appreciate an introduction to? Can you make that warm introduction for them?
- Is there a book or product that you think they’d appreciate, that you could send to them?
By taking the two steps above, you’ll set yourself apart and be ahead of nearly everyone else competing for their advice.
How do you find and hire a great marketer for your business?
One thing that I’ve found, through a lot of frustration, is that it’s really helpful to be “hiring”—that is, connecting with as many hyper-talented people as you can—far in advance of when you’ll actually need to fill those roles.
I’m not saying that you should put up job postings and interview people that you know you’re not going to hire; don’t do that.
But the same way that you put value on connecting with mentors, advisors and peers in your field, put value on networking with people who might one day be great hires, and try to help them in any way that you can.
This makes hiring (when you absolutely need to hire someone) a lot easier, as you’ll already have a strong network of people who know and like you.
But if I were starting a search for a marketer today and knew I wanted to hire right away, I wouldn’t rely on a single channel or approach.
Instead, I’d take three paths at the same time:
- Post a job listing on a site that’s relevant to your industry. I haven’t had great success with the signal-to-noise ratio on the broader job listing sites, but the ones more targeted to us—in our case, WeWorkRemotely is a great fit—have resulted in some really strong hires.
- Tell the world what you’re looking for. Send personal emails to everyone that you know who might have a relationship with the kind of person you’re looking for, post to social media, pick up the phone… finding great people often requires a lot of hustle, because everyone else is looking for them, too. So put in the work.
- Reach out to marketers that you respect. If you already read some marketing blogs, reach out to the people writing them. If you don’t already read any, then find the ones that people respect (here are some of my favorites). At the highest tier, the blogger might not be for hire, but they’ll typically have very strong networks that they can refer you to. And there are a lot of great lesser-known blogs with highly valuable content written by marketers that you can hire.
For more on hiring and how we approach it, check out these posts:
- How Our Startup Hires Top Talent Without Bidding Against Google
- Lessons Learned Building a Startup Team
I’ll start off by noting that, if it weren’t obvious by now, I’m not a lawyer, and I’m not at all qualified to give legal advice.
But I’m happy to tell you what I would do (and what I did) as a founder.
While heavier legal issues like employee agreements and hiring a lawyer are one thing, in the earliest stages, I tend to put topics like the ones you describe in the category of distractions to be handled as efficiently as possible so that you can focus on what’s most important.
There are some free options, but I like the peace of mind that comes with knowing that the paid options have at least been written and reviewed by a lawyer, and they come with a pretty high level of customization for your business.
With that said, a lot of this depends on your business and your customers.
If you’re dealing with highly sensitive information, or in a hotly litigious market like medicine, insurance or financial services, I’d certainly urge you to invest in protecting yourself from the outset.
But if you’re just trying to validate your product with a handful of customers who know they’re dealing with an early-stage startup—I’ve always found that the kinds of people who knowingly sign up for beta programs are a lot more understanding and forgiving of screwups—then I recommend getting this distraction out of the way as cheaply as you can effectively do it.
But once you’re generating the revenue to support it, lawyer up.