So you’ve been inspired by someone you admire. Maybe you want to achieve what they’ve done in their life or business. Perhaps you simply think they’re awesome.
You would love to connect with them. You dream of them endorsing your book, blog or business. Or you would give your right arm for the opportunity to pick their brains for 15 minutes. But you have no idea how to make this happen.
Linda Coles is the author of Start With Hello. She says her book reveals how you can master the skills of talking to strangers. I don’t mean about chatting to the cute guy on the bus in the hope you exchange phone numbers. Linda means engaging with strangers to turn them into valuable professional clients or contacts.
I specifically wanted to get Linda’s advice on how to approach your heroes. Maybe you’ve always want to reach out to Seth Godin, Sheryl Sandberg, or Richard Branson. How do you make this happen? Here’s Linda’s advice.
Hello. You are my hero, let’s connect!
Have you ever thought about reaching out to someone who is high profile but have never taken it any further because you don’t know the best way to approach them?
People of all walks of life are closer to you now more than ever. That’s because the internet brings everyone that bit closer. You can Tweet your heroes directly. You can comment on their Facebook pages. And so on. That, in itself, can be a problem in that everyone can reach out, which means that you have to cut through far more noise in order to reach your potential high profile connection. That means you have to do it right, first time.
Many high profile people are approached with comments like:
1. How can I meet you, you are my hero?
2. How can I get access to your business network?
3. How can I get you to invest in my company?
The first thing you have to ask yourself is: “Why would they?”
Here is the criteria you need to consider when you’re reaching out:
1. Apply some etiquette
Starting off a request on Twitter with: “What’s your email address, I want to ask you something” is not going to get you very far. Would you say that to their face if you met them in the street without any preamble first? No you wouldn’t, so why do it online?
2. Be truthful
Only last week I received a request from someone that told me how much my book “Start with Hello” had changed their life. That’s great to hear, but the book wasn’t out for another month.
3. Make them smile
It’s hard to resist doing something for someone when they have made you smile, particularly if they have made you laugh out loud. This week, a chap made me smile in his email because he put at the bottom that “as he had friends in New Zealand, we were practically related”. It made me smile.
4. Who do you know in common?
There is nothing wrong with leveraging from a joint connections’ name and making it into a warmer request if you know them well enough.
5. Add some personality
Write like you speak, not like something you have cut and pasted from your website. Show a flavour of who you are.
6. Get to the point
Can you do everything above and ask your specific question in 100 words or under? These are very busy people you are reaching out to, so keep it short.
7. Say thanks when they respond
Of course, you could try the really “old fashioned” but highly personal handwritten letter in the mail; it’s still an intrigue to get one of these and you will stand out because so few people are prepared to put the effort in.
When my first book was still in the making, I contacted Guy Kawasaki via his Facebook page and asked him if he would mind giving me his feedback, which he did. When his book Enchantment came out some months later, I posted a comment along with many people about how much I had enjoyed it and he replied “I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed yours”!
Since then, I have periodically commented or dropped him an inmail via LinkedIn to commend him on something, and so when Start with Hello first became a real entity, he contacted me to get a review copy sent to Peg, his social media top gun!
Slowly slowly catch the monkey. Building a relationship over time works wonders.