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When “Keeping in Touch” Hurts vs. Helps You

Contacting would-be VIP mentors is something most people have trouble with. The question isn’t just “how do I contact them?” but also “how should I communicate with them once I do?” I teach students how to reach the unreachables in my guest lectures at Princeton, and here is my response to a recent e-mail about the latter.

Dear Mr. Ferriss,

Hi. I took the first step towards gaining a mentor by calling [important Chairman], and he said I can call him whenever I had any more questions. I was wondering how frequently you contact your mentors. I don’t want to contact him so frequently that it consumes his time, but I don’t want him to forget about me either.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.


[A blog reader]

My response:

Have one truly meaningful conversation with him and ask good questions. Do the same about 3 months later and you’ll never have to “keep in touch” by bothering him. He’ll remember you. I never “keep in touch” by calling or emailing when I have nothing important to say or ask. Have fewer deep connections and you don’t need to. Be memorable and you don’t need to be frequent. The latter just annoys important/busy people.

Hope that helps!


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Serial entrepreneur and ultravagabond Timothy Ferriss has been featured by dozens of media, including The New York Times, National Geographic Traveler, NBC, CNN, and MAXIM. He speaks six languages, runs a multinational firm from wireless locations worldwide, and has been a popular guest lecturer at Princeton University since 2003, where he presents entrepreneurship as a tool for ideal lifestyle design and world change. The 4-Hour Workweek is his first book on lifestyle design and details how to outsource and automate your life.
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