Get THE NEWEST HACKS

Post image for How to Network with Influential People

How to Network with Influential People

11/12/2012

in Make Money


It was a sunny day in Palo Alto when I heard that Tim Ferriss was secretly coming to lecture a class at Stanford, where I was still studying. A few friends and I were the first people to arrive and we tried to hide because the visit was exclusive for people enrolled in the class – we weren’t allowed.

Tim entered 20 minutes later, looked at me, and said, “You’re Maneesh.”

Fast forward 4 months. I had moved to Berlin and found out Tim was coming for a visit. I offered to throw him a party and suddenly we were having dinner, going out to bars, and walking the streets together.

In a similar fashion, I’ve attempted to meet and speak with several of my heroes: Chris Guillebeau, Cal Newport, Tynan, to name a few.

Why Network?

What’s the point of meeting and getting to know important people in your niche? Seneca’s quote always rings true to me when I think about networking: “Associate with people who are likely to improve you.” But this one even more so; “Even suppose we grant these people that Homer was a philosopher, he became a wise man, surely, before he could recite the epics, so that a what we should be learning are the things which made him wise.” Networking allows you, first of all, to learn what made your role models great.

Secondly, networking gets your creative juices flowing for new project ideas and improvements to your old ones. I never leave these meetings without dozens of new ideas of how to improve my business or life.

Finally, networking often leads to more and better networking opportunities. People whom I respect usually know other people I would respect, and can often connect us. Its thanks to meeting Tim, for example, that I got the chance to meet Stefan Goldmann, an extremely well known Berlin DJ who plays at one of Europe’s most famous clubs, Berghain. (Check out our video interview here)

Don’t forget: you are the average of the 5 people closest to you. Network with the best and you will become the best.

Who should you try to meet?

This is really up to you. Networking isn’t just about business. You should be trying to meet people who improve you. Find people who have qualities you wish to have or have accomplished things you’ve dreamed of doing. These are the people you want to meet: people who will improve you.

For business reasons, try to meet people in your niche. Look at your business area as a set of tiers – top achievers in Tier A, high-end performers in Tier B, etc. Look to the tier above you; those are the people you want to meet. Both accessible and successful.

How do you make the connection?

Over the years, I’ve seen specific techniques that helped me connect with great people. Here are the strategies that worked.

1) First of all, be interesting
Famous and successful people don’t have time to meet everyone they want to meet other who’ve done great things. What have you done? Why would this person be at all interested in meeting you? For me, I’m a fairly successful lifestyle designer and I can show my YouTube videos to potential contacts. Think hard and try to find out why you’re worth meeting….and if you are not, now is your time to change. Try building a blog or profile of cool things you’ve done, that you can show off when you meet people.

2) Consider the value you can provide
Even if you haven’t accomplished much yet, think about how you can assist this person. Do you have any skills you might offer him or her?

The king of this is Charlie Hoehn, who went from a college graduate to Tim Ferriss’s right hand man. In just one year by using this method. Charlie offered free video editing to Ramit Sethi of I Will Teach You To Be Rich. Ramit then recommended Charlie to Tim. Charlie wrote a free ebook about this method called Recession Proof Graduate, which you can read here.

Do you have any services you could offer this person? Think about these before approaching.

3) Look to your personal contacts: can someone you know introduce you?
A friend’s introduction always trumps an email out the blue. Check Facebook and LinkedIn to see if you do. Approach your friend to make an introduction.

Make sure you let your friend know why he is introducing you two. If need be, draft your introduction letter yourself.

4) Approach the person in a short, to the point email
If you have no contacts in common, you can email the person yourself. Any email should be short and to the point. Try the following template:

Dear _________,

I know you’re busy so I’ll make this quick: My name is _________, and I noticed that you are doing ___________. I’m pretty experienced in __________, and I’d like to offer my services, free of charge. Here is a portfolio of what I’ve already done. How can I help you?

Thanks
(Your Name)
(Your Website)

This is even more effective if you actually produce something like a blog design or video, and send it with your introduction email.

5) Ask to interview them
This is a tactic that others have used on me as well. I wrote about this in my guest post, The Sex Scandal Technique. Approach the person and ask to interview them in person or online. If they are not too busy or super high tech, they’ll often say yes. Bam, instant connection. Here’s a template you could use:

Dear _______.

Hello! I’m a blogger over at xyz.com and I noticed you are doing some cool and relevant stuff (better to be specific things they are doing). Would you be free anytime in the next couple weeks for a coffee/Skype interview? If not, I could send over a list of questions by email.

Here are the times I’m available (List of times)

Thanks so much!
-Name
xyz.com

Notice the theme in all of these emails: they were short, clean and require minimum effort from recipient.

6) Reach out to the people you want to meet beforehand via blog comments and twitter

It’s best if your potential networker has an idea of who you are. The easiest way to help you get this advantage is by interacting with them via their normal channels of communication and their bog and twitter. Influential people are always much more likely to respond to twitter than emails because of the low amount of work 140 characters requires. Then in your email, you can reference the fact that you’ve communicated before.

7) Get prepared for your meeting
Hopefully, with the tactics I’ve mentioned, you’ve managed to secure a meeting. Now youre going to have coffee or an interview. Now is time to get prepared.

The first thing I do is see if the target has a delicious.com profile. Delicious is a social bookmarking site, a public repository for what people have been reading. If you’re target has a delicious profile, you can see specifically what articles they have found interesting. Name drop then specific articles, and I guarantee you that your target will be impressed.

Next, I look at the blog posts the target has recently written. Try to figure our what they’ve been reading, and more importantly, what they are thinking about. You want to get inside their head.

Review twitter comments, blog comments, news articles…..anything that showcases what they’ve been doing.

Before your meeting, prepare a list of quotations and a general agenda. You want to have a agenda for your meeting, but don’t feel stifled by your plan and keep the conversation fluid and lively.

8) Meet!
If you’re having coffee, don’t just offer, but pay! If your one Skype and doing an interview, make small talk for a significant amount of time. Be friendly but be interesting and don’t fawn over the person. Talk about yourself as well, you want the person to learn about what you’ve done as well.

After your conversation, I like to have a second plan set to offer somewhere to go. Ask if the person wants to go to a bar or something and try to kep the meeting going. Your long term goal is to become friends with this person. Try to think about what you would do with your friends.

If your interested in learning how to talk to interesting people, let me know in the comments and I’ll write something up.

9) Follow Up
Its important you follow up with the person the day after and thank them. I like to invite the person out for drinks. It’s your chance to turn the person into a friend.

One of the most effective followups I’ve ever received was from my good friend James Swanwick, who runs a site about how to become a journalist. James followed up the next day with SIX emails — the first email said “These are 7 things we talked about, and my followup.” That email finished by saying “I’ve sent five emails to you with book summaries of books I think you’d be interested in. Feel free to check it out.”

That followup—with book summaries—has stuck with me until today as the most effective followup I’ve ever seen. James talked about it on my site.

I hope this article helps you meet someone you’ve always wanted to meet. If you want specific advice or have a successful story, please email me about it!

{ 22 comments… }

Noelle Notals December 7, 2013 at 10:41 pm

So many Gold Nuggets in this post! I especially like how you made a point to say- be interesting…VITAL…

Reply

david patrick green November 30, 2012 at 9:21 am

Hi Maneesh, I would like to write a guest blog for you. I run an acting career site called hackhollywood.com, where I have broken down the world’s most mystifying process…how to become a professional actor. Let me know how that sounds.
David

Reply

et November 22, 2012 at 9:52 am

How far are you going to get with sloppy writing?

You write:
If your one Skype

but I think you mean
If you’re on Skype

Reply

Gum December 15, 2012 at 3:38 pm

He doesn’t have time to spell correctly when he’s busy scamming people. These blogging clowns will never “network” with anybody that actually produces something of worth. They will just continue to network among each other to bounce around their gullible customers for their next e-book launch.

Reply

Christiano Kwena November 14, 2012 at 4:45 am

And another thing that works is great, awesome work. When you do something good and seek help, the influentials will be quick to jump and help.

Reply

Jen November 13, 2012 at 1:50 pm

This was a wonderful article, Maneesh! I would love to know more about how to talk to interesting people. I’d also love it if you could give some tips on how to network for shy or introverted people. It takes me a little while to get comfortable when meeting a new person, and I worry this may make me seem a bit standoffish. I’ve gotten better at talking to people over the years but could still use a lot of help to just dive right into conversations without awkward small talk. Thanks!

Reply

muriel November 13, 2012 at 12:38 pm

Thanks Maneesh,
We all know here why we have to network, the HOW is much more difficult, how is your post different from Tim’s advise on the 4HWW? You make it sound easy, is it really that easy?

Reply

Jarek November 13, 2012 at 2:10 pm

Hey Maneesh! This is some fuc***g crazy good post you have written! Networking is one of the most (if not the) skills we can use to get anything. Thanks for posting that guide, it is soo useful. Anyway, if I can suggest something – Never Ear Alone – this is a great book about networking, read it if you haven’t.

Reply

maneesh November 14, 2012 at 2:52 pm

I love the book!

Reply

Alex Shalman November 13, 2012 at 4:36 am

I think an important rule for networking is to allow yourself to be spontaneous. I wanted to meet Tynan and his travel buddy Todd. After a couple of emails I was faced with an invite to join them for a 3 day weekend in Panama. I don’t travel as much as them, and it was outside my comfort zone, which is why I didn’t think twice before booking the trip.

Those 3 days were full of fun and adventure. I got to know a bit about what makes Tynan tic, and that he’s not afraid to fully commit to his ideals, and then later admit he was wrong when he had better data to base his philosophy on. That, plus many other lessons, and new friends.

All in all, just have to put yourself out there. You can’t ever tell yourself something isn’t worth it because of the chance that you won’t make it or aren’t qualified enough. The only way you’ll ever get a chance is if you believe you deserve one.

Reply

Ryan November 13, 2012 at 2:19 am

Hey Maneesh! This is my first comment on here as I just discovered your blog, and man, you are crushin’ it! These are all amazing tips.

I often used to think the most about your number 2 point: How could I provide value to someone who is more successful than me? Then I realized something– while it’s necessary and amazingly helpful to get to know people in your niche of course, one other thing you can do is try to network with people outside your niche or area of expertise. That’s because you will know more about your field than they do (I hope!), and you can play more to your strengths and add value to them. Also, you can learn a thing or two from them in an area you might be a little unfamiliar with.

For example, even if you are a pretty successful copywriter, it will be pretty hard to offer the Dan Kennedy’s (or Maneesh Sethi’s ;)) of the world copywriting value. However, if you meet some photographers or graphic designers, then you can offer them your copywriting skills, and they are more likely to be interested in how you can help them.

People helping people, it’s a wonderful thing!

Ryan

Reply

Greek girl November 12, 2012 at 2:08 pm

So helpful! Thank you very much!

Reply

Nareen November 12, 2012 at 10:30 am

Hey Maneesh! I’m back in the Bay–met your brother right before moving to NYC and hoped to meet up with you before I moved back, but next time. Great article and very relevant to my current situation. I just made the what is probably the most important connection of my life through a mutual friend–just wished I had read this article sooner because I tried to write a very brief intro message and ended up writing a 1-page essay about myself and why I would like to connect!!! AAAHHHHHH. Oh well, got lucky, we’re connected now.

In other news, I would LOVE if you could provide advice on how to talk to interesting people. Along with that would be how to prepare yourself when you know you will meet a very very very very important connection–someday. I just don’t want to build up a great relationship online/email and then have my connection be disappointed when we finally get to meet in person!

Thanks!

Reply

Chris November 12, 2012 at 10:07 am

Hey Maneesh! This post resonated with me big time! I’m always looking to connect with influential bloggers and business leaders and this post has really taught me a lot of ways to do so.

Thanks for that!

Chris Michael

Reply

maneesh November 12, 2012 at 12:53 pm

Great!

Reply

Rajive Jain November 12, 2012 at 9:34 am

Hi Maneesh, Very nice article and ideas to start putting into practice. This stuff is not easy to some people – but your writing makes it seem not just doable but actionable ! Thank you !!

Reply

vidiSEO November 12, 2012 at 9:06 am

Hi Maneesh,

Awesome article per usual! I felt compelled to comment because I’m a YouTube marketing consultant and was shocked to see that you only have 500 subscribers with all the content you put out. Would love to share some ideas and strategies with you (free of charge) if you have the time to connect.

I’ve grown my YouTube Channel (on YouTube SEO) to over 10k subscribers and I think we can agree that SEO is far more boring than lifestyle design.

Reply

Sven November 12, 2012 at 12:06 pm

Really like the article. You are not the 1st person to recommend this of course but some times it takes a while for things to seep into my head! I think it’s finally sunk in and I will defiantly reach out to some people in the next week.

I especially like the part where you not only suggest a face to face / skype call but if they are too busy for one of those you can send over a list of questions. I wouldn’t have thought of that so thanks!

All the best

Reply

maneesh November 12, 2012 at 12:52 pm

I’m glad you learned something from it!

Reply

Kevin November 12, 2012 at 8:58 am

Maneesh- Great article, but I have a question regarding the follow up email. One would think that for a typical meeting, a short and thoughtful follow up email would be sufficient.

Did you not feel that 6 follow up emails were potentially over the top? I know that each email was customized and added value, but some people may be turned off by receiving such a large number of emails after one meeting.

Then again, I could be completely off here so I am interested in hearing your feedback.

Kevin

Reply

maneesh November 12, 2012 at 12:54 pm

I guess it just had to do with the tone of meeting James—I was weirded out at first, seeing the number of emails, but as I realized they were book summaries, I was more impressed than weirded out. But, see how it goes

Reply

Paras Mamania November 12, 2012 at 8:42 am

Good one Maneesh. I feel the best thing is to start by doing interesting work yourself. When you share with friends and they share it with their friends, people reach out to you directly or via a connection wanting to make a connection too. For networking with your heroes, your advice is spot on.

Reply

Leave a Comment

Leave

  • A COMMENT
  • { 2 trackbacks }

    Previous post:

    Next post: