Why ‘It’s Who You Know’ Can Elevate You & Your Work
To be of influence it pays to know influential people.
Spreading your wings and reaching out to respected and prominent industry figures helps add gravitas to your message, as well as heighten your own profile. If you can then maintain good relationships this is what takes your work to a whole new level.
It takes time and effort, but looking beyond your region, finding others and then bringing the world to you, can be done.
In this article, I’ll share what you need to do to bring your industry heavyweights to you. This gives kudos to your entire content efforts. Ask yourself, ‘who can help me achieve this?’
Something I’ve Lived By
The database and connections you build are worth their weight in gold.
In 2013 I had my first taste of reaching out to people whom I considered as having greater authority and influence than me. These were authors, respected speakers, achieved industry success and had built a solid reputation. I reached out and interviewed people for a series called Talking Content Marketing (this ran until 2017).
Back then, I was surprised the people I held in high regard would say ‘yes’ to me. Out of curiosity, I went back and asked them why they said ‘yes’ to a stranger? The reason I discovered was that the initial approach ‘felt genuine’ (you can read more here).
Over the years this project helped me so much. When YATM Online Offline started in 2020, this meant that people I reached out to from the interview series became the main guests on the show.
Forming close and valuable relationships isn’t a tall order, it can be done. You want to work with people who matter and making a mark on an international scale.
Who Is Influential To You?
When I talk about influencers, I don’t mean people with huge followers on Instagram. I mean people who continually deliver value and have built credibility from their point of view and have done it consistently over the years.
For instance, if I share, comment and retweet posts from Mark Schaefer, that is someone who has influenced me. An influential person is someone who aligns with what you want to achieve and what they say strikes a chord with your goals.
It can help you and your efforts when aligning yourself with someone who has industry prominence. When making the right approach with someone who has achieved notoriety, who knows what the future can hold? I now consider Mark Schaefer as a friend and looking to get him back to the seaside in 2022.
Why Do It?
Reaching out to your industry figureheads is more than hoping that someone will retweet your kind words about them.
It validates you and what you do.
When someone takes part in your initiative or project, it shows others that someone is willing to give you their time and their expertise.
It strengthens your own efforts and confidence.
If there is a cause you believe in and stand for, it feels even better when known people want to spend time in your space and stand with you.
If you have spent time to get a known industry person on your side, people sit up and pay attention. This can also add credibility to what you do. Think about how you can make an impression, over an impression.
It can enhance your reputation.
It can feel like being back at school and someone four years above you says ‘hello’ back and then takes time out to talk to you. When this is witnessed by your friends, status points go sky high.
Mutual beneficial opportunities start to happen.
It’s not just about what you can take, but also how you can have an input in someone else’s work. For instance, people I know, have become guests on Trevor Young’s Reputation Revolution Podcast.
Here’s How To Go About It
Approaching others you have high regard starts by taking down the distance you think you might have and realise that people are out there to help and take part with you.
It is important to remember that genuine relationships can be built, not short-lived peripheral acquaintances.
Here are some ideas to get the heavyweights to your side.
Reach out and connect.
An invitation on LinkedIn or Twitter and making an invite personal makes it easier for the initial ‘getting to know you.’ However, don’t ruin it all by making the ask straight away, that’s going to result in a straight ‘no’.
Find a way via someone else.
If there is someone you would like an introduction to and you don’t want to approach directly (such as a LinkedIn invitation), the chances are that you know someone who could introduce you. Be clear on a reason why you’d like to be connected.
Prove that you actually care.
The personal touch matters, YATM Online Offline guest and author Robert Rose says, “pretend YOU are the person you are reaching out to.” Whether you are commenting on something they have produced or speaking to them at an event/conference, showing that you value their work can leave an imprint.
Make it easy for them to say ‘yes’.
Whether for a blog interview or a podcast, show them that it is going to be straightforward. For my Talking Content series, I made it clear that I’d have six questions based on their work and a week to reply. For YATM Online Offline I will send to a future guest how the show looks and what the topic will be. Let them know their time with you is structured, clear and also enjoyable.
Ask for nothing in return.
James Altucher shares the importance of giving and then getting back ten times more in the long run. This could be giving ideas to those you want to reach out to. He says, “Sit down every day, picture a person you can give ideas to, and come up with ten good ideas for them. At the very least this will exercise the idea muscle.”
Say hello in person.
I know this sounds simple, but the amount of people that don’t dare to step up and say hello. Whilst an in-person environment can be daunting, a speaker getting feedback puts them at ease too. Make that introduction, say hello and then follow up.
Make the ask.
If you know what you want, the time you would like someone to give, the format for their involvement, the benefit to them, you have the start. If you can make it personal and approachable, then stepping up and asking does work. This makes it easier for someone to know what’s in store and that time with you is going to be fun and worthwhile.
The old mantra of ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know,’ is true. When you know respected and revered people, it is reflected back at you. It begins by others recognising your intentions and that your initial approach and getting to know someone is not a selfish ‘take’ for you to be seen by many.
To build your reputation, a lot will be dependant on your ability to make connections with your peers and also respected people within your industry.
When you know the message you want to deliver and the audience you do it for, by reaching out to influential people can add clout to your entire content efforts. They can become people who lift what you do by an extra 20% and the longer-term relationships, can become friendships. It’s a great feeling to have people who can support you professionally and personally.