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A 5-Minute Challenge That Can Change Your Life Dying to talk to a particular big-name CEO? Pick up the phone, or shoot an email. You may be surprised.

By Jimi Smoot Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Are you desperate to get in touch with a new client, mentor, employee or investor you don't know? Typically the process goes as follows:

  • Find someone you want to connect with.
  • Use LinkedIn or Conspire to find three friends who know the person and ask people for an introduction.
  • Learn that one of these friends actually knows that person; the other two "met him once."
  • Get connected by that one friend.

Related: The 7 Habits of Seriously Effective Communication Pros

Although this process oftentimes bears fruit, sometimes the best introduction you could possibly have is from you, yourself. But before you get caught up in the intro-dance described above, why not just cut to the chase by emailing the person cold and seeing what happens? I've had current and past vendors do this with me, and I've done it successfully as well.

A few years ago, I was working on pitching an idea to the client to do a partnership with "Beats Music," the company behind the famous Beats By Dre brand. The problem was that Beats was dead center of a massive hole in my network. I didn't know anyone at Beats directly, and the company was still small, so I had no second-degree connections. I even knew people at Interscope, but the Beats brand was separate and my contacts didn't have access to the team.

So, I picked up the phone and called the Beats front desk. I was transferred around a bit but ended up on the phone with the assistant to Luke Wood, the president of Beats. We scheduled something, and a couple of days later Luke called me while driving his convertible -- a very annoying call.

Ultimately, the deal fell through, but still, from a cold call to the president? I definitely felt good about myself.

Going in cold doesn't work for just me. Ilya Semin famously raised funding from Mark Cuban, using a cold email. Brian Wong, the high-profile CEO and cofounder of Kiip, is notorious for building his career on writing cold emails. Even to this day, in between segments on CNBC and meetings with titans of industry, Wong sends cold emails because, "People usually feel too intimidated to reach out, so executives don't expect it."

It worked for me; it worked for Wong and Semin; and it will probably work for you.

So let's try a little experiment. Right now, pick someone you want to connect with: Looking to chat with President Obama? Go for it! What about Warren Buffett? Do it! The sky is the limit. Just pick someone.

I'm picking Ben Horowitz because I really liked his book.

Related: 4 Surefire Ways to Grow Your Circle of Influence

Now spend five minutes to track down that person's email and send a quick note. Right now. Do it. Seriously.

This could be the best five minutes that you have ever spent in your life, or it could be a complete waste of time. At the most, you are out five minutes. Next time you watch Game of Thrones, just fast-forward through the intro credits, and you will have that time back.

Don't know what to write? No biggie; below are a few primer statements for you to start from. Your only objective should be to get the person to respond. After you send the email, shoot me a comment below and let me know how it goes.

For mentorship outreach:

We have yet to meet, but when I saw your post on _item_, I had to reach out.

My company is working on improving our _metric_. So far, our biggest roadblock is _item_.

Since you are an expert, I was hoping to connect, to run a few ideas by you and hear your thoughts.

If you're interested, I am happy to send along more info.

Are you open to connecting?

For customer outreach:

We have yet to meet, but I was hoping to connect.

My company helps companies like yours improve _x_.

Recently, we worked with _y_ and _z_ improved _x_ by over _rate_. Assuming that your operations are similar, we may be able to help you see the same results.

I'm free _x_ and _y_ this week.

Are you open to a quick five-minute call to see if this could make sense for you?

For investor outreach:

We have yet to meet, but I saw that you invested in _x_.

My company provides a similar service in market _y_. So far, we've been able to drive _ metric_.

Although we aren't currently fund-raising, we have learned a lot about _z_ and are happy to share with you what we have learned and hear your thoughts.

I'm free _t1_ and _t2_ this week.

Are you open to hopping on the phone for five minutes?

Related: Become a Networking Beast by Following This 5-Step Plan

Jimi Smoot

Managing Partner, Octavius Labs

Jimi Smoot is the founder and managing partner of octavius labs, an LA-based incubator that builds and launches marketing and productivity software-as-a-service products.

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