I came across this article courtesy of the National Post.
But then there are an elite few who take asking for help to Olympic levels. Two weeks ago, I heard two of them speak on an entrepreneur panel at the SOHO Small Business conference in Vancouver.
On the face of it Brian Scudamore, a high-school dropout who built a rubbish-hauling business into franchise giant 1-800-GOT JUNK?, has little in common with Marla Kott, a $500-an-hour accountant who runs Imprint Plus, a maker of innovative, high-quality name tags. But when one audience member asked the panelists what they look for in a mentor, both Kott and Scudamore said they go straight to the top.
Both Vancouver entrepreneurs say they ask themselves who would be the best person to talk with about any issue. Then they contact them. Scudamore has what he calls a carefully tended MBA database (Mentor Board of Advisors) -- 750 people who have responded positively to his requests for help out of the blue.
Whether it's Howard Schultz, chief executive of Starbucks, or E-Myth author Michael Gerber, "I've never been afraid to call," Scudamore says. "It's amazing how busy people will take time out to help another entrepreneur." He may have to nudge some a few times, but Scudamore says 90% of the people he's contacted have willingly given their time.
Scudamore scours newspapers and magazines for stories of successful business people, adding them to his file of people to call when he faces challenges similar to theirs. That tactic landed him meetings with digital marketing expert Seth Godin, Subway founder Fred DeLuca, and Costco's Jim Sinegal. He has talked leadership with Boston Philharmonic conductor Benjamin Zander and met with Bell Canada CEO George Cope to learn how Cope runs effective meetings.
The key to contacting VIPs is to target them precisely, know what answers you're looking for, and respect their time. The best way to approach them? "Sincerely," he says.
Read the full story here: http://www.canada.com/nationalpost/financialpost/story.html?id=1a77b930-d2f2-4555-8f86-e73b1840e460&k=23125