How a veteran (or anyone) can get a meeting with a VIP
Published: November 17, 2011
If you’re transitioning from the military to the civilian world and looking for mentorship, here’s a brief bit of advice to keep in mind: It’s not who you know. It’s who you get to know.
We wrote a few days ago about veteran-turned-entrepreneur Joe Meyer, whose advice on getting great advice was to ask real questions.
Don’t just ask, “How do I find success?” You might as well ask the meaning of life. Instead, ask for specific advice.
Is it better to get a degree in computer science or just try to find a job as a programmer? Should I go back home when I get out the military or try someplace new? Stuff like that.
There’s another threshold question, though: How do you even get in a position to ask for advice? How do you meet people? How do you get them to take your calls?
As far as we know, Christine Comaford never served in the military. (She describes herself as a former serial entrepreneur, venture capitalist and Buddhist monk). But a column she wrote recently about how she landed a one-on-one meeting with Apple CEO and Founder Steve Jobs (before he died, obviously) provides good inspiration:
Want to meet your “Steve”?
3 Steps To Get A Meeting With Any VIP:
1) Find out what causes they care about. Write a ½ to 1 page genuine letter about their specific accomplishments you admire. Offer five hours donation of your time to their favorite non-profit for five minutes of their time (request a meeting in person versus via phone).
2) Send your letter via FedEx. Call to ensure it was received and bond with their Executive Assistant. Only call first thing in AM or last thing in PM. They’re more likely to answer then.
3) Repeat step 2 until you get a meeting. If for some reason this doesn’t work, give the letter to them by hand at an event they are speaking at. Then repeat step 2 until you get a meeting.
In 30 years in business the approach above has always worked for me. The key is the letter. Be authentic, heartfelt, compelling. Care. Make it a work of art.
Yeah, it might sound extreme. The headline, “I Stalked Steve Jobs (And How To Get A Meeting With ANY VIP),” isn’t exactly subtle. But keep in mind that Comaford only asked for five minutes of Jobs’ time. He even told her to bring a timer, although once they got talking he sat with her for nearly an hour.
Do you really have to send the letter via FedEx? That can get expensive, and it might be kind of difficult if you’re currently deployed. But we’ll bet a lot of people you might not otherwise be able to reach would respond to a series of one-page letters with APO postmarks. Americans have been saying for a decade that they want to support their troops---so you might as well make it easy for the ones you want to support you.
You can find Comaford’s article here.
What the heck is a Ruptured Duck? To find out, click here.