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How to get the attention of your favorite expert (new detailed post)

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I know this woman who runs an online business. I like her a lot — she has a great product, she’s been covered in some great press, and when I’ve met her, she’s really fun to hang out with.

But her business is struggling. She doesn’t charge enough and she doesn’t know how to grow her business. On two occasions, I’ve heard her mention cashflow problems.

Here’s the interesting part: Looking at her business, I know how she could easily quadruple it in 2 months. (I know because I did exactly the same thing with mine.) And I would love to help her, free, as a friend.

It would be presumptuous for me to call her and tell her what to do. But if she reached out, I would be HAPPY to help. In fact, I wish she would ask!

Why don’t we ask for help?

For a lot of us, we’re worried about “annoying” the busy person.

Sometimes, we hate feeling obligated.

But no matter what, we’re shooting ourselves in the foot. The worst someone can say is “No.” But what if connecting to a busy person could give us ONE answer — just 1 — that could change the trajectory of our lives?

There is a better way.

To show you how, today I’ve invited my friend Selena Soo to share her strategies for connecting with busy VIPs. Sometimes, they might give you a 1-line email response. Other times, they’ll take you under their wing for life.

Selena has done a masterful job connecting with journalists, entrepreneurs, and authors. Not like a sleazy person handing out business cards at a bar, but in a totally authentic way. For example, when I wasn’t sure where to host an event in NYC, she knew the exact place to do it. When I needed to hire someone to help with a business challenge, she pointed me to the right person.

Today, she’ll show you how to connect with busy people and tap into their networks and expertise.

Take it away, Selena.

*     *     *

How do you get a CEO, TV producer, or potential mentor to write back to your email, and say yes to your request?

The most powerful people, who can open up doors for you, are also the busiest people. Before even having their morning coffee, they open their email to see dozens — if not hundreds — of requests that have already started pouring in.

Even if you don’t get 1,000 emails per day like Ramit, I imagine you’re also struggling with the flood of information and to-do’s that land in our inboxes daily. In fact, the average corporate employee receives and sends 105 emails per day.

Now what does this mean for you?

It’s harder to stand out and make an impression. It’s so easy for your message to get overlooked or ignored in all of the noise.

However, what if the simple act of sending one email could lead to a big job opportunity, a high-paying client, or an influential new friend? It could save you weeks, months, or years of knocking on doors (or just hoping and praying for a lucky break).

If you know how to get busy, powerful people to respond, you’ll have a HUGE competitive advantage over everyone else.

Unfortunately, most people go about emailing influential people all wrong. They end up ruining potential relationships before they’ve even started.

Today, I’m going to show you how to start a relationship with a specific type of influencer — VIP experts, bloggers, and authors — the right way: through generously adding value. And I’ll be breaking down real emails on the right and wrong way to do this.

REACHING OUT TO EXPERTS

These big experts often seem impenetrable. They have 10s, or even 100s, of thousands of people on their list. But the truth is that they DO want to get emails. They would LOVE to get hundreds of emails a day from their readers — if they were the RIGHT emails.

What if you could be that person that your favorite blogger, author, or expert loves hearing from? How can you get them to light up when they see your email in their inbox?

What is it that makes an expert respond or not respond to an email? How do you get this person to care about you? How do make sure you aren’t annoying them or taking up their valuable time, but rather giving them great value in your email?

I want you to know how to craft a message that will begin a relationship and leave a lasting impression.

Below, I’m sharing examples of three types of emails I received after I hosted a webinar that over 700 people signed up for. Let’s dissect what worked and didn’t work about them.

EMAIL 1: The Generic Email

On the surface, this seems like a good email. “J” is enthusiastic and complimentary. She also makes an offer to help.

But let me tell you what’s missing from this email.

This type of email doesn’t make much of an impression. It’s not memorable, because it’s generic and non-specific. Furthermore, while I would respond and say “thank you,” I would never take the person up on her offer to help.

Why?

  1. I don’t who she is or what she does. I can’t figure out how she would help me.
  2. Even if I did know what she does, how do I know she is actually good at it? And how do I know that I will like her work?
  3. As a busy entrepreneur, I’m protective of my time. The entire process of reaching out to her, scheduling a time to get on the phone and explore this, and receiving her help could take several hours. This email gives me no way of knowing whether or not it would be worth it.

Another thing to keep in mind — if you are looking to develop a relationship with an expert, author, coach, or information product creator, they tend to have two primary goals — to generate leads or sales. The ways you can help them are fairly obvious.

So as Ramit often says, “Don’t make the busy person do the work.” Don’t ask the expert to spend time figuring out how you can help them. Instead, be the person who proactively comes up with valuable ways to help.

For example, if you can promote them (their website, blog, service, product, book, or events), offer a case study about the impact of their work, or refer customers to them, you’ll for sure stand out as someone valuable to them.

EMAIL 2: The 7-Paragraph Email

Have you ever gotten emails that are 1,000 words long?

I received a few of those after the webinar.

At first, I was excited to see that someone was so passionate about my content. I was committed to responding and writing back to everyone who took the time to email me.

However, these super long emails ended up feeling burdensome.

Why?

  1. As a very busy entrepreneur (or just a very busy human!), reading a 7-paragraph email felt overwhelming. It took me a lot of time to read, digest, and respond to the many questions embedded within the email.
  2. When someone writes you their life story in 7 paragraphs, you feel bad responding with two or three sentences. I had to spend more time than I normally would to craft a thoughtful, appropriate response.

The time of the experts you admire is valuable. Many of the experts I know charge between $100/hour to up to $3,000/hour. So while experts, bloggers, and authors enjoy hearing from their readers, be mindful of what you ask of them.

With that in mind, most long emails are not a form of giving (even though the email recipient may have put thought and care into writing the message). They are actually a form of taking.

When a well-meaning person emails you their life story, a laundry list of questions, or a request to jump on the phone with you, they are actually taking your most valuable asset — your time.

And the best way to build a relationship with an expert you admire is through giving generously and respecting the value of their time.

Recently I heard author Michael Ellsberg share in an interview that when someone becomes a sought-after expert, they are no longer able to help many people 1-on-1. That’s why they create a newsletter, write books, and give talks. They want to share their work with the masses. So when you are requesting 1-on-1 meetings to get extra advice, especially when you don’t have a strong relationship with them, you are likely disrespecting the way they want to help people.

EMAIL 3: The Email with a Specific Offer  

I responded to this email right away, and I got on the phone with Pam the very next day.

Why?

  1. She established credibility (she’d been mentored by famous executive coaches Marshall Goldsmith and Tom Peters, and had lectured at Dartmouth).
  2. She had taken the time to listen to my live webinar and showed enthusiasm for what I taught.
  3. She made a specific offer that was relevant to me, which I could simply say “yes” or “no” to.

Pam stood out from the hundreds of people listening to my webinar by leading with generosity, and she got my most precious resource: my time and attention.

When we spoke on the phone, she also invited me to do an interview for her radio show (which I said yes to), which will keep us in touch and further develop our relationship.

She did all of this in the spirit of giving, without asking me to do anything for her in return.

(Note: Pam’s name shared with permission.)

So how can YOU stand out to experts by being a GIVER?

Tim Ferriss and Ramit Sethi have become well-known experts and authors because they are regularly producing powerful, life-changing content. They are passionate about sharing their knowledge and want to know that it’s making an impact.

The way to start your relationship with these influencers is to consume their material and actively implement what they are teaching, and then let them know how it has helped you.

There are several ways for you to do that.

Here is a specific example. A real estate investor watched one of LinkedIn expert Lewis Howes’ interviews and then wrote him a personalized, thoughtful note.

His note is very specific. He tells Lewis that his interview was the best he’s ever seen (out of over 100). He followed up by buying his LinkedIn book, showing he wanted to learn even more from Lewis. And he wrote all of this in a personalized LinkedIn message to add Lewis to his network (a very fitting way to connect with a LinkedIn expert!).

The result? Andrew made an impression on Lewis, and Lewis ended up sharing his note on his Facebook page.

3 Ways to Get on the Radar Of A Busy, Influential Expert

Here are some more examples of how you can get the attention of your favorite expert, blogger, or author. Can you see yourself doing any of these things?

  • Attend a webinar and ask an insightful question. Afterwards, follow up. Come prepared to the webinar to take notes and ask a thoughtful question relating to the topic. Follow up with a thank you email to the expert for answering your question, and share how you’re going to implement that piece of advice. Then, after you implement it, follow up with another email sharing your results.

  • Write a testimonial or case study for their product or program. Have you bought an information product from any of your favorite experts? And did you complete it? If you say to them, “I bought your product and I finished it and I got XYZ results,” they’ll think: “Wow, this person is serious and committed.” So, complete the program. Then, offer to write a testimonial or case study.

    This is valuable because in order for experts to sell their products, they need proof that it works. By doing that, you become an ambassador for their sales and promotions. With experts, that’s how they make money. When you help sell and promote their products, you stand out from the thousands of fans and become a valuable person in helping them grow their business.

  • Comment regularly on their blog. (Bonus: Share results you’ve gotten through using their material.) For example, at Ramit’s BehaviorCon event, marketing and lifestyle expert Marie Forleo shared with the audience that she’s proud of the passionate community she’s built online. The viewer comments for her MarieTV episodes are rich and intelligent, and people are supporting one another with the weekly community challenges. This is something that experts take great pride in.

    Getting thoughtful blog comments makes these experts feel like their hard work is appreciated and making a difference. And when you comment regularly, you will be noticed. Some experts may have active readers, but very few consistent blog commenters. In that case, you’ll especially stand out by leaving comments, so take advantage of these opportunities.

    The key is to be consistent about it, and to know that a relationship is built over time.

Here is an example of a blog comment that got marketing expert Derek Halpern’s attention:

As you can see, Derek cares about his readers and their results.

And when you come back to an expert’s blog to share the results you’ve gotten, you’ll distinguish yourself from everyone else.

Here’s another example of a comment that stood out. An IWT reader told Ramit that he’d had success with his famous Closing The Loop technique.

To sum it all up, here are 4 guidelines for your comments or emails to influencers:

  1. Make it short, so it’s easy to digest.
  2. Share something specific that you liked about their product/blog post, etc. (i.e., an entertaining story or a deceptively simple tactic they offered).
  3. Share how you have taken action or will be taking action.
  4. Express your gratitude.

Here is a challenge for you:

Write an email, or a comment on your favorite expert’s blog, using what you’ve learned today. And to practice, feel free to leave me a comment, as I would love to hear from you and connect with you!

###

Selena Soo is a business strategist + publicity coach for entrepreneurs, experts, and authors. Get her exclusive 4-step guide: “How to Get Important People to Notice You (And Take You Under Their Wing)” — free for IWT readers.

 

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257 Comments

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  1. Selena (and Ramit),

    As someone still in “dues paying mode” and early in my career, I simply do not have credentials like Pam has to drop in an email, but I need a mentor or the ear of a VIP just as badly as she does. Fortunately the examples of Andrew and others added depth to what could have otherwise been a flat blog post and has given me actionable steps to follow.

    I’m in the process of looking for a marketing mentor and I’ll be sure to put the tactics you’ve shared here to work and report back later on with results. Thanks for the insightful read.

    Mike

    • Mike,

      Been there man, so I completely get where you’re coming from. It’s really hard as you get started in your career to build up the experience that allows you to send an email like that in the best example here.

      Here’s what I would do if I were you (feel free to use what makes sense to you and leave what doesn’t). First, I would get super focused on what you want to be the best in the world at. How can you define the world, the value you’re providing, and the skills needed to make it happen in such a way that it’s possible to be the best in the world? For example, I can probably work towards becoming the best career performance coach for young professionals in the first five years of their careers in tech startups in Atlanta, but I probably can’t be the best business coach in the city of Atlanta. So, what do you want to be great at?

      Second, I would figure out what case studies or results you could possibly achieve to demonstrate your potential to contribute to someone like the experts Selena talks about here. You can use Charlie Hoehn’s technique to track down some test cases and tell them, “Hey, I can provide xyz value to you. I’m just getting started, and I’d like to test my methods in your organization. You name what this is worth to you, and no matter the number, I’ll say yes.” If you’re any good and can actually produce results, then 6 months later you can have three case studies that directly demonstrate your results.

      Step 3: use your case studies as the proof that you can do what you say you can do.

      That’s just my two cents. It’s the same method I’ve used to land an internship with Seth Godin, build a strong podcast guest list, and become an advisor to Fortune 500 executives here in the Atlanta area.

    • Hey Mike,

      Like you, I’m still early in my career (my new career anyway, as I’m in the middle of a transition). I very recently had a ‘win’ in this area by taking a slightly different approach.

      I’d signed up as a member for a new subscription service. As part of the new-member welcome sequence for this product, the start-up founder sent personal emails asking for member feedback. I jumped on the opportunity to ‘offer my thoughts’ on ways that the company could improve their email marketing. Although at the time I was not looking to solicit the guy for anything specific, we set up a time to Google Hangout and I ended up being awarded a $3000 freelance project!

      In the Google Hangout I spoke about practices that other large, successful companies are using in their email marketing and provided some ‘typical statistics’ (that I’d researched ahead of time) that are seen when email marketing is effectively used. Although I didn’t have any direct job experience in CREATING results in this area, I was able to demonstrate a significant amount of knowledge about the practice.

      I think you need to identify an area of marketing you are particularly knowledgeable about, make an effort to learn even more about it (as much as you possibly can), and then demonstrate that knowledge in your outreach message. It doesn’t matter as much that you don’t have any specific, direct experience if you can demonstrate a solid understanding of the material. That’s what experts do anyway – they learn and learn and learn until they get (or create) the chance to try it out; THEN they can share their results and say they’ve succeeded!!

      Laurie de Fleuriot
      Founder & Digital Content Strategist
      Scribbles Social

  2. Hi Mike, thanks for reading! Happy to know the example of Andrew was helpful.

    Best of luck finding a marketing mentor. Do keep me posted on how it goes! =)

  3. Hi Selena! Thanks so much for providing such specific tactics. I think that beginning relationships like this, even with people who aren’t necessarily at the very top of the industry, is the most valuable thing you can do to get the word out about a company or blog, and so this is something I really love learning about!

    I’ve been sticking to Ramit’s guidelines of keeping emails short and providing as much value as possible for the other person. I’d really like to also try your idea on offering to write a testimonial after using a product or service. Sounds like a great way to not only get your name known by the expert, but potentially by their audience, if they publish testimonials online.

  4. Hi Meg, yes! Offering to write a testimonial is a very powerful way to add value. Great point about this being a way to get your name in front of their audience.

  5. Selena (and Ramit), Thank you so much for this! I’ve been thinking a lot the past few days about how connect with “influencers”. The Universe answered! You gave such specific and easily implementable ideas, I feel confident that I can reach out and connect.

  6. Great tips and insights. Commenting on expert’s blogs is something that’s always in my radar but I rarely actually do. This is a great reminder as to why this is important. Attending a webinar and following up with an insightful question is an amazing tip as well. Never actually done it but will try it this week and will let you know the results. Thanks for the great article Selena!

  7. Hi Selena!
    I love your step by step to the point on how to build these relationships. Personally I have found when it comes to building blogger relationships it’s all about leaving thoughtful comments, and connecting via social media. Allowing the relationship to develop to hopefully become friends in real life!

    A big one for me has been checking in what is my intention before emailing the big shots. This means leaving the desperation or looking for validation. Being willing to give back what they generously shared whether is through a blog post, webinar, program.

    • Hi Laura, yes! the more thoughtful the comments the better.

      And I like what you said about the intention. Desperation is never good when trying to build a relationship!

  8. Selena, you are certainly THE expert in this arena! This article is fantastic because you give some great examples that can easily be implemented right away. I’ve participated in your webinars and read many of your articles and have already been doing some of what you’ve suggested. I don’t live in a big city and building relationships via Facebook and blog comments has actually worked for me. I’ll soon be sending testimonials to some high-level experts as you suggest here. I’ll keep you posted on that. I’ll be sharing this post for sure. Thank you, thank you!

    • Hi Rubina, you are awesome! Thank you for listening to my webinar and reading my articles. Love that you’ll be sending testimonials. Definitely keep me posted on your results.

  9. Hi Selena (and Ramit). Selena I listened to your webinar and kept asking myself what I could possibly offer someone who has “made it” as I start my own journey. I was hiding behind being an introvert and feeling overwhelmed. I finally came up with an answer that works for me. I offered myself as a volunteer at an event that my “mentor to be” is hosting. I figured it would give me something to do (so I wouldn’t have to enter a crowded room all alone) and would be a great way to meet people, while still helping out. The “mentor” in question was happy to have someone volunteer to help. I hope this will be a good way to meet her and her team while making true personal connections. Thanks as always for your insightful and helpful posts!

    • Lorna, that is wonderful! What a GREAT way to add value. Spending time w/ a potential mentor at an event deepens the relationship + there’s a good chance you’ll meet a number of people in his or her inner circle (team members, friends, close supporters).

  10. Hi Selena,
    Great article. Thanks for the specific emails and examples. I mentioned to you before that that level of specificity was really helpful on your last webinar too. Since then I have reached out to two influencers. One of which I haven’t heard back from but the other was very engaging and we have since started a relationship. The hardest part was getting over the fear but I imagine like anything else, it will get easier with practice. Thanks for the insights and the motivation!

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