How to reach out to Mentors on VMEConnect

There is always a right and wrong way to do things. Below are some good tips on how to reach out to other veterans and industry professionals on the VMEConnect platform. Follow these tips and you will be successful and building a great networking of industry professionals.

Dear Mark,

I currently work in the television production field, but someday (someday!) I hope to be a “real screenwriter” and see that you are currently succeeding in that industry now.  I wanted to reach out to another military veteran and writer that I was hoping to seek advice from.

My background was I was an 11B (Infantry) soldier attached to 82nd Airborne, and separated from Active duty only a few months ago. I am working on getting into school, and currently taking classes online to further my craft. 

I would be happy to buy you a coffee to pick your brain on how you got started, and what has made you successful as a writer in Los Angeles. I know how busy you must be, but would be happy with even just a phone call. Thank you for your time and good luck with television staffing season!

Thank you!

—Joe Snuffy

The above email will get you far in reaching out to industry professionals you do not know. It incorporates several tips which are listed below which are great suggestions on how to reach out to mentors in the industry and on VMEConnect.

1. Make Your Subject Line Compelling


Subject lines are really important, especially an email is coming from a person you don't know. "Hello," "From a Fan," or something similar is too generic, especially for someone who might receive hundreds of emails each day.

Keep the subject line short but eye-catching, hopefully referencing something she doesn’t see every day in her inbox. You might include an obscure work or blog post she did (“Inspired By Your Research on XYZ”) or name-drop the person who gave you her email in the subject line ("From Marks Friend")—only, of course, if you know that she knows and has a positive relationship with that person.

2. Reference Something Specific

Once you are into the body of the letter, start mentioning specifics. If you don’t mention your mutual, make sure you state how you received their email, or how you are reaching out. 

In VMEConnect, finding a connection from their profile always helps!

You’ll also want state specific reasons why you’re interested in them and their work.  Bonus if they aren’t the things they are not typically known for—for example, if they are currently writing nonfiction but used to write screenplays, you could include a reference that. 

*** Specific references to their work will help differentiate your letter from others, and show that you’ve really done your research.

Also mention what you have in common. Beyond professional interests, don’t be afraid to talk about hobbies—say, that you’ve traveled to the same places, are from the same region of the world, or served in the same area, or held the same MOS. 

Always be genuine and honest. 

3. Ask for What You Want (Nicely)

Someone can't help you unless she knows what you want. So if you are looking for a writing mentor, say that. You might not get exactly what you want—but you won’t get anything if you don’t ask.

One thing to note, is that people are busy. any working professional is. So offer a smaller baby step that’ll give that person an “out.” 

For example, “I am looking for a writing mentor and would be honored if you would meet with me once a month. But I know you are incredibly busy, so if this isn’t possible, would you be willing to answer some questions over the phone?”

4. Keep it Short and Sweet

You're busy. Working professionals busy — keep it short. People usually, consciously or not, try to keep email responses the same approximate length as the message they’re answering—so if you write a short novel, you can bet the person you are reaching out to is going to dread having to come up with a response that doesn’t feel curt or rude.

5. Say Thank You

Always. Both at the end of the email and if you get a response. I can't stress this enough. People love to help others out, but they also love to be appreciated for their efforts. Be polite. 

6. Don’t Take it Personally if they DO NOT reply. 

Working professionals have a ton on their plate. Trying to get the next job, raising a family, and trying to give back to mentors they might already have. DO NOT GET UPSET IF THEY DON”T REPLY RIGHT AWAY. It might not be a right fit, but if you follow up a few weeks later, be just as polite. And if they don’t reply, maybe it is not a good fit! Remember, it is about relationships with other veterans that will get you that next job!

Rebecca Murga