I’m sure you can relate to this and agree that selecting the right people to reach out to is the most important step on your way to success (whatever success is since we’re talking networking).
If you do this right, clearly, you’ll be able to build strong relationships with great people. If you take a more random or less thought-through approach then your mileage may vary, so to speak.
Clearly, contacting everyone whose email address you can get your hands on is not the best idea. You don’t need to be in touch with the whole world. A small group of people who you really want to meet and get to know is more than enough.
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Good starting point
There are a couple of things to keep in mind when choosing the people you want to reach out to. First of all, let’s talk the areas/niches those people are in.
There are three main places where you can go to find interesting people:
- Look into your niche.
- Look into your passions.
- Search for like-minded people.
Now, looking into your niche is self explanatory. You simply investigate what’s going on in your niche, and find all the interesting (for whatever reason) people.
There are no rules, someone interesting is simply someone interesting. Once you stumble upon such a person you’ll know that it’s them.
This is an area that might mean exactly the same as your niche, but not always. Consider this example: If you’re a guitar blogger, looking into your niche means going through different websites and blogs, and trying to find interesting authors. But going through your guitar passion means finding other guitarists, guitar teachers, and other people that might have only a presence on Twitter, for example, and not even a website.
Remember, it’s not strictly business, so grading people solely depending on the sizes of their sites rarely turns out well. Even people with seemingly no connections might be extremely helpful for all kinds of advice or help.
Finally, what I mean by like-minded people are people who share a similar journey to yours. Let’s use the same example. If you’re a beginner guitar blogger, you might consider reaching out to some beginner bloggers in other areas, not only guitar. Also, you might choose to reach out to someone who has already achieved the goals you are trying to reach right now (and they don’t have to be within the same niche as well).
Advice from those kinds of people is often invaluable. Seeing what other people are doing in different niches, and then applying it to your own can give you a real head start before your competition realizes what’s going on.
Different groups of people
OK, we’ve covered some places where you can find interesting people. Now let’s talk about what kinds of people to look for. Three categories here: peers, a-listers (E.g. celebrities) and mentors.
A peer is someone who’s at a similar stage that you are at. In other words, it’s someone who you can share your journey with. There’s rarely anything better than discussing your plans and planning future projects with someone who’s talking to you from an equal level.
How to recognize such people? First, start by searching for some blogs that appear to be getting the same publicity as yours does, or slightly more of it.
Look at things like average number of comments, shares (retweets, likes), PageRank of the blog (you can check this at http://www.prchecker.info/ or by using a Firefox plugin called SearchStatus), Alexa rank of the blog (http://www.alexa.com), number of RSS subscribers (if the blog owner shares this). I know that there are a lot more metrics you can look into, but using just the ones here is more than enough to recognize a peer.
Peers are great for networking. They always keep you accountable and force you to constantly work on your growth if you don’t want to be left behind. Building a network of peers has a lot more value in itself than just helping you to achieve your initial goals. This is probably the most valuable group of people you should reach out to.
A-listers or celebrities in your niche can help you in many different ways. And you don’t even have to ask for that help. In most cases, just the sole act of you doing something for them is helping you already.
For instance, in the blogging niche, the sole act of you working with someone like Darren Rowse on a project bumps up your brand a lot. Even though you might be participating in the project for free, with no actual monetary compensation.
A-listers can also introduce you to many influential people, and vouch for you when it’s really important. Moreover, working with these kinds of people makes you much more experienced, and more knowledgeable about how things are being handled at the top.
Your niche’s celebrities are very easy to find. Probably, you don’t even have to search for them, you just know who it is from the top of your mind.
However, getting in touch with them, and building a relationship is much harder than it is with peers. You have to understand that A-listers are hit from every angle by other people who want to achieve the same thing you want, so getting through the filter is much more difficult.
If someone says no then don’t take it personally. You never should. Just proceed with your strategy like nothing ever happened. Busy people have to say no if they want to be able to do anything in a day, soon you’ll face this situation yourself.
However, depending on the exact person you’re trying to contact you might stumble on different personality types. Just like in real life, some people are great, and some are not. Don’t believe anyone who tells you that every A-lister is a great person, this can’t really be the case.
The goal while dealing with celebrities in your niche is to be able to talk to them from the same level, like you’re equals. I know that when you’re just starting out they are popular and you are not, but you are still the same human beings, and there’s no point in one of you being treated with less respect. Keep that in mind.
Finally, a mentor. Having a mentor is truly a great thing. A mentor is someone who’s much more experienced than you and hopefully has already done what you are trying to do. Advice from such a person is often invaluable. Especially if you’re stuck at something and can’t find a good way out.
Identifying your desired mentor is not difficult. Simply choose the person you’re looking up to the most. Someone whose actions have always been highly inspirational to you. Someone who’s books/posts/blogs you’ve always been reading.
One more thing to think about is what exactly do you want to learn from this person? What are the first 5 questions you might have for this person? Your mentor should be someone you know you could easily spend many hours talking to on various topics related to what you’re doing.
Once you know who it is, you have to come up with a strategy to get this person to become your mentor (which we will discuss in the next episodes).
Now, your mentor doesn’t have to necessarily know that they are indeed your mentor. For them, you might be someone who they like contacting and talking to or exchanging emails containing various advice.
Also, sometimes you don’t even have to talk to your mentor to get some advice. Sometimes looking up some information on what they did in a similar situation that you’re in (when facing a similar problem), is more than enough to get you going.
Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that you’re going to be able to connect to your mentor and build any kind of relationship. The problem is similar to the one with A-listers – many people trying to achieve the exact same thing you are trying to achieve. So if you can’t seem to reach a given person you might want to select someone else.
Interestingly, getting a mentor is often easier than building a relationship with celebrities in your niche. I think it has something to do with our mindset. We tend to be much more careful and much more respectful when approaching a mentor.
Action time! Now it’s up to you to go ahead and select the groups of people you want to get in touch with.
A simple path you can follow
- Select a group of 15 peers, either in your niche, your passions or other like-minded people.
- Select 5 celebrities in your niche or broader niches (in case yours is too narrow).
- Select 1 mentor you truly want to contact.
These 21 people are the starting point for you. In the next parts, we’re going to discuss how to go about contacting them and building those relationships.
Of course, if you want to select a bigger group of people I don’t advise against it, but you might find it a lot more challenging to be able to handle all the initial communication. And you can’t mess that up. Often, if you fail to make some things happen on your side you might burn the contact completely.
Now, let’s get down to business. The next part is all about ways of approaching people. Until then don’t forget to subscribe to get the posts delivered straight to your inbox.
Did you manage to create your own list of 21 people? Feel free to share your opinion and thoughts you’ve had when completing the list.
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