Mentorship And The Art Of The Cold Email

Fast Company’s Innovation Festival hosted a conversation between three women CEOs that covered some of the details of finding a mentor. (Hint: It's not just one person.) They discussed how to reach out to many people who can help you as yo build and advance through your career--as well as how to start authentic conversations with potential mentors, based on your spefic questions and needs as well as shared interests. Cold emailing can be intimidating, but with these tips and some research, you should be well on your way to invaluable insights and connections! - Myriad blogs and self-help books tout the benefits of having a mentor: that person that helps guide you up your career beanstalk. But finding a mentor can often seem elusive. Perhaps that’s because looking for a single person to lead you through your career isn’t the right approach.

"I don't think anyone should have one mentor unless you have one problem for the rest of your life," insists Liz Wessel, cofounder and CEO of WayUp, a startup aimed at connecting college students with jobs. When she encounters a problem or needs advice, she makes a list of all the people that she knows might be best at solving that particular issue, then contacts each person directly.

"I'm all about cold emailing," she says while speaking with two other female founders, Jennifer Fitzgerald, CEO and cofounder of Policy Genius, and Kathryn Minshew, cofounder and CEO of The Muse, at Fast Company’s Innovation Festival. It's an intimate audience mostly made up of women.

The cold email, Wessel says, has landed her dinner at Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s house and conversations with executives at Match Group and Twitter. Wessel’s endearing nature may play a part in her success, but she says her cold emails work because she carefully researches her prospective mentors.

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