There comes a time when we all want to reach out to someone with influence. Maybe it is a pitch for investing in your new startup. It could be that you are seeking advice or mentorship. Maybe you just want to get to know them as friends. I have learned that a few things matter most when reaching out. If you always get the gatekeeper, the person tasked with making sure their boss is not harassed with time-wasting contacts, then you probably need to look at one or all of the following; your motives, your technique, and the value you add.
Motives are a big deal. Often we don’t even know what they truly are. Asking a few questions will help us take them apart. Are you trying to get in contact with the person to sell something? Are you approaching them with a win win option? Do you want to add real value?
Technique can be anything from the way you approach them to the look and words on your about page. Each of these matter. Often succes comes down to finding the main mode of communication they use. If you pique their interest they are going to do a bit of investigating. If they are like me, they will try to find out who you are. That means they will search for you online. That is why your about page, as well as all of your social site interactions, are important.
Lastly, and I think most importantly, is the value you add. Are you showing up nearly out of obscurity or have you done your homework? If they are an author, read their books. If they are an actor or director, go watch their films. Find out if they answered your question already if they have a blog. Comment, share and engage. A little ground work and investing in their work can pay off. It sets you apart form all the other people trying to get their attention.
I have made friends with many influential people over the years. I have had a lot of success reaching people that I have wanted to connect with. To tell the truth, I only have talked with a handful of gatekeepers.
Most of all, don’t be afraid to reach out and connect. You will never know what friendships or connections you will be missing unless you risk a bit and try.
Oh, and one last note. If you find yourself struggling with this go read Guy Kawasaki’s Enchantment: The Art of Changing Heart, Minds, and Actions. At the end of the book Guy asks the reader to take an enchantment test. I failed so I am re-reading it. He has some priceless nuggets of advice that are truly great when reaching out to influencers.