Offer value and have a reason to connect
People will accept an invitation to meet from someone who is perceived to be of value to their business. Find an area of interest or passion for that person and offer your expertise or share information or research on that topic. Offer introductions to people in your network who may be helpful. Be certain to communicate that you’re ambitious and doing exciting work without sounding too self-righteous.
Getting introduced through a mutual connection adds rapport and social proof. Having an endorsement from someone your target trust adds to your credibility. Find targets on LinkedIn and see if you share any connections. If you do, ask the shared connection for an introduction. Note: the person who introduces you is a direct reflection on you. If it’s someone your target is close with, it will reflect well. If it’s someone they barely know, or don’t particularly like, it might backfire. The person introducing you should also have good things to say about you, so make sure they are familiar with your work and accomplishments. It might even take multiple introductions if your target is very selective. Go out and meet lots of people to increase your chances of meeting a close friend or colleague of your target. It is an investment in time that will pay off!
Reach out cold
A warm introduction through a trusted mutual connection is much more valuable than a cold e-mail. However, if you really want to meet someone and you don’t have a strong connection, you’ll have to reach out cold. Keep your cold e-mails short and personalized and clearly state how you can help. If you are serious about meeting a person, and you truly believe they would benefit from meeting you, follow up. 4-10 days is generally a good interval depending on the situation and urgency. Keep the follow up e-mails short – around 2 sentences. Try to do something more than just sending another nagging e-mail. Send them something that would be of value to them or “humblebrag” about what you’re working on to generate interest.
Public communication mediums such as Twitter, blogs and other discussion forums, are a great way to engage with people around shared interests and build rapport. On Twitter you can simply respond with thoughtful commentary or questions. Commenting on someone’s blog is amazing way to get to know them. People generally write about topics they’re passionate about, so if you can engage on that topic it can be very helpful in building rapport. In addition, people like to have an engaged community of readers on their blog, so you’re also helping them with promotion. Communicating with someone online can make your cold e-mail a little less cold because you’re already on their radar.
High caliber people often get speaking engagements at conferences and events. When someone speaks at an event, they’re doing it to market themselves or their company and to engage with the audience. You can research where your target will be speaking and do your best to get in front of him or her when they make themselves available for networking. If you don’t get a chance to meet at the event, you can send an e-mail afterwards referencing something that he/she discussed. This usually increases the likelihood your target will answer. You can also engage with someone’s interests outside of work.
Highly successful people are very busy and selective about who they meet. However, if you’re thoughtful, helpful, and proactive, you will be surprised at who you can meet if you put in the effort. To learn more about meeting and building relationships with awesome people, check out my Udemy course, How to Build an Awesome.
Mike leads business development at Casual Corp, a venture studio in New York City, and teaches a video course on meeting and building relationships with awesome people via Udemy. You can connect with him at twitter.com/mfishbein
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