6 Smart Techniques to Connect With Influential People
Entrepreneur's New Year’s Guide
The oft-quoted Jim Rohn adage that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with has been found to be pretty accurate. Successful people tend to hang out with a bunch of other successful people. That’s not so much due to exclusivity as it is similar interests.
If you like sports, you tend to like hanging out with other people that like your favorite teams. The same goes with success. If you possess the qualities and characteristics of what it takes to be successful, it’s likely you’ll be attracted to and want to hang out with other people who share your values.
So what if you’re starting to earn some success in life, but want to make the connection to influential people outside your immediate social circles? Connect to those more successful or influential than you the right way with these six smart techniques.
1. Find connectors.
We are no longer bound to geographic areas. If there’s an influencer you’d like to meet, odds are good that you know someone who knows someone who could introduce you. Personal introductions come with a much higher value than cold requests, so dedicate some time to figuring out who could connect you with the individual you’re seeking.
For example, I happened to hire a bright young woman for a marketing gig many years ago. She did a wonderful job and we stayed in touch over the years after the project ended. I found myself recently in need of a contact at a local, large municipal economic-development group, but didn’t know a soul there.
Suddenly, I remembered that part of my previous employee’s hyphenated last name was the same as the president of the group. I asked her if she knew him, and as it turned out, it was her father. Small world! I had no idea when I hired her who her father was or that I would ever need an introduction, but you can bet that when she sent her father a note introducing us, he was helpful and happy to meet.
Be good to everyone and when you need a connection, you might be surprised who will come to your aid.
2. Ask for interviews.
Another great opportunity to connect with influential people is to ask them for interviews if you have a podcast or are writing an article or book. The request should be sincere, so if you aren’t truly interested in featuring them in some way you shouldn’t make the request. The quickest way to kill a relationship is to start out on false terms! This can be a great way to offer an influencer some kind of value exchange for their time.
3. Use LinkedIn.
This is probably the most “cold-call” like of all the techniques, but it can work if you do it properly. When you become a premium member of LinkedIn (it’s $30 a month), you get a set of five tokens called “In-mail” that allow you to send an email to as many as five people that aren’t immediately in your network. This can get spammy quickly, so be careful how you do it, but this can work quite well as a tactic for delivering a message, solution or interview request to someone when you don’t have his or her contact info.
4. Offer a solution.
Going back to the LinkedIn methodology, when you reach out to someone for a connection that you don’t know, it’s a good idea to prepare some kind of valuable solution you can provide them.
James Altucher has a great system of doing this where he thinks up 10 business ideas or solutions that are truly well thought out, organized and prepared, then sends them to influencers he’d like to know better with no request or ask. He just simply tees up the ideas and says they’re “yours to use if you want them.”
It’s an unusual, but memorable technique because so few people offer something and ask for nothing in return. Sometimes he’ll do it for months or years, continuously providing them with great ideas. Many times he doesn’t get any kind of response, but sometimes he does.
The key to this technique is really smart solutions that are relevant to your influencer and not asking for anything in return.
5. Attend an event.
Sometimes there's a great chance to meet a key influencer by simply attending a conference, networking event or book signing. Search out an opportunity to say hi and introduce yourself. This is an old-fashioned guerilla tactic that still works really well. Do something memorable and make a personal introduction, then follow up. It’s simplistic, but it works.
6. Join a program.
Many of the key influencers in your local area, or even the national spotlight, offer mentorship or training programs. This may be a bit of a pay-to-play option, but what’s the harm in paying for your influencer’s valuable time, learning something along the way and benefiting from a personal relationship through coaching?
You’ll have way more face time with influencers by joining their programs and you’ll be showcasing your ideas, personality and desire to be a part of their world. You just might meet other great influencers, too.
Can’t afford their programs? Offer to work for them for free if you have to. It’s another great alternative if you’re willing to put in the time and effort.