How to grow your business through VIP networking.
“How did you connect with ____?”
It’s a question that I get all the time.
Whether it’s a VIP that we published an interview with, a publisher whose blog we guest posted on or just someone noteworthy who shared or commented on our content, we’ve made a lot of influential friends over the last five years.
I don’t say that to brag, but to tell you that it wasn’t an accident, and that you can absolutely do it too.
I don’t live in San Francisco or New York.
I wasn’t born into business royalty.
I had virtually no network and no money when I started out.
But if there’s one thing that, aside from simply working hard, helped me accelerate my learning and the growth of our business over the years, it’s building relationships with people a lot smarter and more successful than I am.
They’ve helped me through hard challenges, connected me with key partners and hires, and motivated me to step my own game up.
Today, I’m going to lay out my exact approach for connecting with VIP’s, including the actual email scripts I used—and that have been used on me—to build game-changing relationships for our business.
First: If You Want Help, Be Helpful.
I’ve had advisors and other entrepreneurs show me emails where a young founder pitched them, completely cold.
99.9% of the time, it’s not going to be that easy.
And it shouldn’t be.
Because if your potential mentor as good as you’re hoping, their time is going to be in high demand. Every minute of theirs is incredibly valuable.
Simply put, they have more to lose than you do. So why should they assume all the risk and commit their time to helping you, when they’ve seen no benefit?
To get help, you need be helpful.
Make it a habit to reach out to successful people and offer them your help, with no expectation of anything in return.
- Do you have a particular skill that the potential mentor might not have (i.e., coding, design, SEO, etc…)? Offer to apply it to help on their business or side project.
- Can you think of an idea that would improve their business? Send it over.
- Do you know anyone that the person might appreciate an introduction to? Can you make that warm introduction for them?
- Is there a book or product that you think they’d appreciate, that you could send to them?
If there’s a “shortcut” to building relationships with busy, successful people, this is it.
And while I wouldn’t consider myself anywhere near the caliber of the types of people that I would seek out as mentors, I’ve been lucky to have been approached for guidance from many entrepreneurs. I’ve seen some bad pitches, and I’ve seen some incredible ones that use that tactics above.
Here’s one example that caught me right away:
This email didn’t just result in me agreeing to help the founder with his company; it also turned into a paid gig for him in helping us implement his idea, and multiple introductions to other founders I know.
If, starting today, you delivered value to just a single potential mentor each day, then in a month, 30 important people will know your name and remember you. They may not all want to work with you, but you’ll begin to be known for being the kind of person who provides value, rather than the 99% of people who simply ask and hope to take.
A Script for Asking for Help
Once you’ve proven that you’re a contributor of value, rather than a taker, asking for help is a whole lot easier.
But the way you ask still matters.
Now, I don’t think you should use a template or a formula—relationships are very personal, and the way you ask for help will depend greatly on each individual relationship—but it’s important to consider a few things:
- Be short and clear. Busy people get hundreds of emails each day, don’t make it an easy choice to skip reading yours because it’s too long.
- Gently remind the person of your relationship. Again, they get a ton of emails. Giving them a quick reminder of who you are (and what you’ve done for them) is helpful.
- Keep your ask specific. Don’t make them do the work of figuring out what you want.
Here’s the exact email that I sent a while ago that turned into a free 60-minute Skype session with one of the most sought-after marketers in the world:
I kept it short, reminded him of where he knows me from (I had introduced him to a friend of mine), and made a specific, direct ask.
He said yes, and not only did I get more time than I asked for, but I ended up getting insights from our conversation that turned into big conversion wins for Groove.
A Script for Nurturing VIP Relationships
Investors—startup VC’s, for example—have a portfolio of companies that they’ve invested in.
They don’t expect every single one to deliver a return.
In fact, they know that many of their investments will end up as complete losses.
Some of their startups will return their initial investment, and maybe a little bit extra.
But very few of their investments will become massive successes.
That’s the thing about massive successes, though: you don’t need many of them.
Relationship building is very similar.
Invest in as many high-quality relationships as you can. Nurture each one and continue delivering value on an ongoing basis.
Some of those relationships might never end up benefiting you, but the few that do will make it all worth it.
How to Apply This to Your Business
The people that I’ve connected with using these tactics have made immeasurable contributions to our business, and to my own growth as a founder.
But meeting VIP’s isn’t about luck, or about starting with a great network (most people certainly don’t).
It’s about the rigorous application of smart tactics, over and over again.
I hope that this post has convinced you to take a first step toward connecting with the VIP you’ve always wished you knew.