While there are many ways to expand your circle of influence online, by far the fastest way to grow an audience in this age of influence is to partner up with influential leaders (I’ll call them VIP’s or “Very INFLUENTIAL People) that already have the attention of an audience you are trying to connect with.
This article goes into a bit of detail on how to make that initial connection happen.
The Goal: Create a three-way-win* (you, the VIP, and the VIP’s contacts/audience). This also allows you to add new followers to your email list (ideal result), or add twitter or facebook fans etc. In most cases, selling something shouldn’t be your initial goal (that comes later in most cases).
Some tips for making a connection with VIP’s:
Start With A List
Early on in the process you’ll want to research using sites like Klout.com, peerindex.com, google and youtube to identify which VIP’s with large audiences you’ll be targeting. Make a list! Once you have this list in hand begin to tap into their social network and support them while there. This process could take days, weeks or longer. Sending brief handwritten notes thanking them for the contributions etc. will go a long way in opening up doors for further communication. Everyone welcomes additional “fans” into their life no matter how much they’ve already achieved. Be sincere and be persistent. Have the VIP’s best interests in mind at each step.
Do a Bit of Homework
Before seeking out a win/win partnership with a VIP you should get to know their business model, and find out about their personal interests just a bit. What makes them tick? What are they trying to accomplish? Do you have something in common with them? Have they inspired you in some way? Can you help make them meet their goals somehow?
Start out your connection with them on a friendly note that shows you have a connection and proves you’ve done your homework.
After that, most VIP’s are looking for two things: first they want content that they can share with their audiences, and next they are trying to grow their audience. If you can help them do one, or ideally BOTH of those things you are far more likely to get their attention. In pursuing Dave Ramsey, I told him in my request that I would be expanding his audience by placing his endorsement prominently on the back cover of my book where hopefully thousands of potential new followers would see it. As your own influence expands you’ll be able to make such promises as well, but if you are just starting out you’ll have to play the angle of providing the VIP with fantastic content that they give to their audience. For additional great ideas on creating content that attracts crowds check out the “email marketing” and “reputation and influence” categories on my blog.
First Contact Should Be Brief
I rarely send anyone a long email, but I never send a long email when initiating contact with a VIP. It’s a pain to get, send or read long emails or letters so just don’t do it. Keep it short and sweet. A few sentences will do and you’ll be far more likely to get a response that way as well. Earn the right to spout the details – that time will come later.
Leverage What You’ve Already Got
Use social media to make your intentions clear and recruit assistance from your current connections. You’ll likely find help from unexpected places. A great example of this was my recent successful attempt to get an endorsement from world famous syndicated talk show host and top selling author Dave Ramsey. Before I started tracking him down I made it clear to my entire social network (facebook and twitter followers) that I was attempting to get Dave to endorse my new book. Several of my social network friends knew people that were close to Dave and they went to bat for me to help make first contact. I did get the endorsement, but I’m sure it wouldn’t have happened without the help of my online community. Get the full story here: http://www.offlinebiz.com/public/From_Jim_Cockrum_to_Dave_Ramsey_2.cfm
If you do get a reply from a VIP (or their assistant) be sure to follow through quickly and thoroughly. Nothing scares off a VIP like an unpredictable, scattered or disorganized potential partner.
Use a Written Note to Improve Your Odds
Handwritten notes or cards are rare these days. The same rule of brevity applies here though. Don’t assume that just because you took the time to write a letter that someone will read it. I have countless long letters from subscribers and others that I’ve never gotten to. I don’t have time to read several pages of information from a stranger that didn’t do their homework. These notes always get opened though and earn the write a minimum of a few seconds of consideration. The same is true at nearly all levels of “VIP” I’m sure.
“No Reply” is a Reply…For Now.
There have been many instances where I’ve gotten behind on answering my personal email due to a project, vacation etc. Some of the “ignored” senders quickly become offended or rude and assume that I’m not replying because I don’t like them etc. It’s human nature to assume that a lack of response indicates rudeness or lack of interest when in fact it’s just as likely that there just isn’t time to respond right now. I also expect persistence as a sign of commitment. Even if I like your idea initially I may or may not reply just to test your resolve. I like working with determined people and it’s just another way we filter out the “masses” from the true winners that we eagerly partner with. Every VIP at every level has their own “filters” to keep out the weak. Don’t be weak.
What do you think? Any questions or feedback? Let’s chat about it. Use the comment button above to share your thoughts.
*Creating 3 way wins http://www.jimcockrum.com/blog/2010/05/25/the-power-of-3-in-your-business/