We all have professional idols we’d like to meet, people whose careers inspire and impress us. But how do you connect with them? Start by establishing your credibility. When you email or message your hero, mention mutual connections, shared alumni affiliations, or work you’ve done in their field. This person likely gets a lot of requests, so demonstrate why connecting with you will be mutually beneficial. Be specific about what you’re asking for and what you can offer. (If you don’t have something valuable to offer, that might be a reason not to reach out.) You should also be clear that you have no expectations — you like what they do and you’d enjoy the chance to be useful to them, but you completely understand if they’re too busy. By showing that you are aware of their circumstances, and don’t want to take up too much of their time, you can set yourself apart from the rest of their inbox.

This tip is adapted from “How to Reach Out to Someone Whose Career You Admire,” by Dorie Clark

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