(I don’t do many guest posts these days, but for years, I’ve loved getting to know the author of this one. I shared the stage with Lewis Howes at World Domination Summit and asked him to write about this topic because I’ve watched him do an amazing job of connecting with mentors. He’s also built a massive podcast with 9 million downloads in part because he’s so great at connecting with people. For more great stuff from Lewis, check out his book “The School of Greatness.”)

lewis lights

How to connect with top mentors without inviting them to coffee. By Lewis Howes

My most valuable business asset, aside from my ability to hustle, is my network. I can pick up the phone and call any number of friends and powerful experts in a wide range of topics asking for advice and I know it will be exactly what I need to get results.

This is priceless.

But about 8 years ago I couldn’t pick up the phone and call one person who I trusted for business advice. I knew football coaches, previous teammates and ex-girlfriends and that was about it. So, if you don’t feel like you have much of a network currently, don’t worry. There’s hope.

Coincidentally, it was my girlfriend at the time who introduced me to one of my first business mentors, when I was a washed up football player recovering from surgery, and clueless about what to do with my career. She knew an inventor who had just moved back to Columbus, Ohio, where I was living at the time, and she arranged a meeting between us.

I showed up in jeans and a ripped off tee shirt with an attitude like I had it all figured out. Thankfully, I was able to tell pretty quickly that this inventor, Chris Hawker, was really smart and a good guy. I could see I might have a chance to learn something from him if I played my cards right. So I started asking him a lot of questions, really listened to the answers, and at the end of our conversation, I asked him if I could work for him.

He said no. But I said I’d follow up anyway.

I followed up with him every week for months until he finally said I could come work for free around his office (and my desk was a closet in his kitchen). I worked for him for a number of months, eventually making $500 a month, sitting in that closet making phone calls and going to trade shows with him. But in exchange, I got to go on a walk with him once a day where I could ask him any question I wanted.

This experience was priceless.

Chris is still my good friend, mentor, and business partner to this day. He taught me so much more than how to run a business or come up with a good product idea. He taught me that to develop a powerful, mutually supportive relationship with a mentor, you have to be willing to give way more than you ask.

Lewis-book-mockup2In fact, don’t ask for anything.

Just offer to be of meaningful service, in any capacity that will help the mentor in achieving what is important to them. (This could be as simple as showing them how to set up a Twitter cover image that doesn’t look terrible.)

Offer to work for free.

Say yes to anything.

Hustle hard.

Show them you are grateful and willing to learn.

Keep your word.

Skip coffee meetings and go straight to offering a potential mentor whatever you can that will aid them in their own business. Be patient and before you know it, you’ll have a much bigger network. It’s worth the work, I promise.