Investing in Community, Mentors’, and Influencer Relationships

March 4, 2016 at work

I live in Chandigarh. I did not have any mentors, money, or a management degree when I started my own digital agency, vhite.

The learning, experience, and the visibility that I have gained so far have been largely by my quest for relationship development. I always believe in learning things from people who are doing amazing work, who are always keen to share their knowledge, and are super successful in whatever they are doing. It is a great source of learning to see how the people you admire share their failures and their gains, how they evolved and reaped the benefits of persistence.

I ensure that I follow and thank people on the way, including to Ryan Hoover, Dan Martell, Bram Kanstein, Scott Abel, David Burkus, Justin Jackson, David Apple, Alex, Eric Jorgenson, and many more. (The list is NOT in any order of preference or priority.)

Following them and talking to them helped me make right decisions on how to overcome big challenges. Many projects that I won, few community roles, and some decisions that I took in products, are colored by how my influencers had been advising, directly or indirectly. It is not only about “tangible gains”, it is also about how put yourself in the picture if there is an opportunity.

Here are a few examples of how it has helped me so far.

Pierre Lechelle

I was doing some research on SaaS pricing strategies and I landed at SaaS Free Trial Optimization post by Pierre. I subscribed to his posts and in one of the emails, he sent me a link to this guide — SaaS Free Trial, Freemium, and Pricing Benchmark — based on the analysis of 550 SaaS companies. I wrote to him as below.

Vinish Garg Community Mentors Relationships

Pierre was kind to reply and he asked what exactly I was working on. When I explained to him, he offered me a 30 Minutes free call, as below.

Vinish Garg Community Mentors Relationships

I was delighted.

If you see Pierre’s Clarity profile, he charges $1.67 per minute for a call to advise on his areas of expertise. I talked to him for 25 minutes and saved around $40. Isn’t it interesting?

Content Strategy Forum Project

Michael Andrews shared a post at the Content Strategy Google+ Group. I had already seen that post at Content Strategy Inc., and I posted my comment, as you can see below.

Vinish Garg Community Mentors Relationships

Michael invited me to the CSF Glossary project and I immediately accepted it. See this post for more details and I got an opportunity to interact with some of the leading content strategists in the community. I am enjoying the whole process of working on this project.

You can see that I got this project only because of my comment on that post. Small things.


Buffer launched the Library feature a few days back, as I got an email from their customer happiness team. To learn how it works, I tried to find it in their knowledge base but it was not updated for this new feature. I wrote back to that engineer and he was delighted at seeing my email. See below.

Vinish Garg Community Mentors Relationships

I may not have gained anything direct but such small gestures help you get visibility and “knowingness” in the community. You never know when and how it works.

Information Architecture at Zapier

Zapier published The Ultimate Guide to Customer Support and they have quoted me in chapter 9. When Matthew Guay wrote to me, I immediately replied back and answered his question on Information Architecture sources.

In the following emails, I got an insight on how an information architect is working at Zapier. (I have listed it in my Mentions list as well.)

Community and Relationships

I studied barter system around 30 years back when there was no www. In any profession, relationships play a huge role in how an individual evolves over a period of time. You do not need to reply to all emails. Just use your judgment to be thankful to the people who are sharing their knowledge and making it easier for you.

If you have been investing in such relationships, I would love to know your gains or success stories. At the same time if you have not been interested to get involved, I am interested to know what stops you.