Moments after hitting send, your analytical mind beckons, “Did I write a good call to action for my email?” “Will I get a response?” “Did I make a fool of myself by just reaching out cold?”.
We’ve all been there: trying to connect with someone who doesn’t know who you are or care.
But, for whatever reason you need to chat with them. Whether it’s a role model you want to glean insights from, or simply a valuable business contact – you want them in your rolodex.
Here’s how I not only connected with a few top people on my list, but actually built rapport and a relationship.
The three options in this article all weave together, but are free-standing as well. Nonetheless, you’ll likely find a way to utilize all three. Option three is the one that can secure the meeting in under 30 minutes.
3 Tools for Securing a Meeting, Interview or Conversation with Your Target Contact
For each contact that you want to get “in” with, this process should secure you the meeting with under 30 minutes of “legwork”.
Once you have the meeting, you’ll probably want to invest more time to convert the meeting into content, expand upon the relationship and so on.
Step 1) Attend events where they’re going to be
In a world where digital hacks and online marketing are in vogue, it’s quite unique to go meet someone in person.
In the world of sales and marketing; “In person” is the new form of differentiation.
You can use their digital presence to get a cue on where to find your role model, then go meet them in a space where they’ve invited the public, and are willing to connect.
For example, famous growth hacker to American Apparel, PR legend and stoic writer Ryan Holiday often does book tours when he releases something new. And he announces his upcoming tour locations on his Instagram Stories, as well as his email list. So, of course, me and my friends went and connected with him.
Ryan Holiday and I at a book signing in Los Angeles, CA
That said, it’s not always easy to get them to open up on the spot, and depending on the nature of your ask, you might not even want to do it in that environment.
So use this handshake hello to make a quick, low committal ask “Hey I’m a reporter doing an investigation on [topic of your work], and I have read several of your books. But I have a few more questions, if you’re interested in being featured in my story. I have a social audience of ____ people and run my own [blog/company/fanpage, etc]. So your message will meet a lot of eyes”
Tease their interest, don’t share too much information, and offer something to uplift them “I’d love to feature you for my 100K readers”.
Almost no one turns away a good promotional opportunity. And if that for some reason doesn’t work, try this next strategy.
Step 2) Bring a videographer / photographer
When you attend events and conferences, consider bringing someone with you to help convert the experience into content for your company or personal brand. [As you can imagine, there’s more value than just content here.]
Having a camera crew adds a lot of social credibility – even if it’s just a low level employee or intern filming for you.
People assume that you’re important if you have 1) a photographer to follow you around and 2) are running some kind of program that has an audience. And likely, they want to get in front of your audience.
Leverage this. And, if you have a large size audience, even better!
Right when you get to the conference, find the organizers and let them know you’re filming interviews for [you fill in the blank] — in my case, I was getting interviews for a Youtube channel about mindfulness in business.
The organizers will often connect you with speakers right there on the spot, and sometimes have “interview rooms” where you can have a quiet place to sit your high-value contact down and have a real conversation.
At Stacking Growth conference, I sat down with two big influencers – Kristen Hancher and Austin Hare who have an audience of over 30M combined on Tiktok and Instagram. Definitely a good duo to know, and to do a favor for.
Interviewing with Kristen Hancher and Austin Hare of Team10
Step 3) Write a story and submit it to a solid publication
You may be thinking “well I don’t write for any legit publications”. And you may be right. But there’s a way around that.
So, don’t sell yourself out of this last one until you’ve at least given the strategy a read.
Most events and conferences offer comped or discounted press passes for reporters who are covering the event.
And most publications ask you to apply for writership by bringing them a drafted story they can actually read and evaluate. So kill two birds with one stone!
Here’s the process:
- Contact 5-6 people at a given publication – ideally the editor for your area of writing interest, via LinkedIn Connections “Add a note” feature.
- Ask them something like “I’m writing a story showing the behind the scenes lifestyle of top influencers in LA, featuring [reputable name], and was curious if you’d be interested in the story for [publication]. No worries if not, but if so 1) it would make my whole day, and even year! And 2) It would be exclusive to [your publication]”
- Do this until you find an interested publication. Mind you, your story might only pull a small publication if this is your first time around. It gets easier once you have some momentum though.
- Once you have opt in, go to the conference website (where your role model will be speaking), and email their partnerships email letting them know “Hey I’m writing a story for [top publication] about [subject]… and I was wondering if you’d like to have me come to [your conference] and interview [speakers] and cover the event. If you’re interested, just let me know”.
- Almost always, if you have a decent story & publication combo, they will invite you.
Often times, the event organizers who gave you a comped press pass will want to have the final look at the article draft and maybe make some changes. That’s okay, just make sure it doesn’t throw the whole narrative and kill your chance at publishing along the editor’s guidelines. The editor has final say and you must respect that.
Best part? If you write for a publication once, in some cases they’ll create a user in their publishing platform for you and you’ll be able to contribute again and again. Make sure to put that in your outreach notes “I’d be looking to contribute regularly if you liked this story”.
Thanks to a handy DSLR camera, I helped my friend Felix Hartmann sit down with his role model Reese Jones, a behind-the-scenes tech maven, futurist and innovator – who is friends with Tim Ferriss, Ray Kurzweil and Elon Musk. Not a bad guy to know.
In every case, it’s a win-win. Whether you’re helping your role model out by sharing their story to your audience, or getting them a piece of press – both sides win. And with that leverage, it’s ten times easier securing that connection with your target contact.
It can be awkward to approach someone who you’ve been following for years, know everything about them, talk about how much you love their work – and then have them know nothing about you. They’re human too, and that can cause a social imbalance. They’ll feel uncomfortable and wiggle their way out of the conversation.
Instead, have a very clear objective and reason for chatting with them. They’ll appreciate your directness that saves them the pain of small talk. Better yet, offer them some small token of appreciation by helping share their story.
Did this work for you? If so let me know!