When he needs advice, former Major League Baseball star Alex Rodriguez turns to people such as fellow MLB player Ken Griffey Jr. and legendary investor Warren Buffett. After all, finding mentors you can trust is a crucial ingredient in the recipe for a successful career.
But how did a professional athlete like Rodriguez get an in with the biggest name in business? He cold-called him.
When Rodriguez signed with the Texas Rangers in 2000 for a record-breaking $252 million, the team needed the last, most expensive part of his contract to be insured in order to close the deal, A-Rod said at the eMerge Americas conference in Miami, Fla., on Tuesday. Unbeknownst to Rodriguez at the time, Buffett, a longtime sports fan and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, which owns insurance companies, stepped up.
"If you send $4 million by 11 o'clock in the morning, I'll insure it," Buffett reportedly told Rangers owner Tom Hicks at the time. Hicks sent him cash the next day, and Buffett insured Rodriguez's 10-year contract.
Years later, when Rodriguez learned what had transpired, he used the connection to book a meeting with Buffett.
"I cold-called his office... I said, 'Hey, I'm in business with Warren Buffett, do mind if I have a call with him or something?'" Rodriguez remembers.
Buffett agreed and soon became one of A-Rod's top mentors in finance and business.
"[They said], 'Why doesn't he come up and spend the day with [Buffett] in Omaha?'" Rodriguez says. "And I ended up doing that like five or six years in a row and had some great times with him."
This strategy also worked for Birchbox CEO Katia Beauchamp.
When Beauchamp co-founded Birchbox, she had no experience in technology or beauty, so she began reaching out to anyone who could possibly lend her advice.
"I cold-emailed every CEO of the beauty industry you can imagine," Beauchamp said at a CornellTech@Bloomberg event. "And it worked."
The business landed key partnerships early on with big beauty brands like Kiehl's and Benefit, something Beauchamp says was crucial to landing investors as well as customers.
Intimidating as it might seem to reach out to a dream mentor, it never hurts to take a chance on a connection and ask. Need some help? You can follow Beauchamp's recipe for the perfect cold-email here.