If you are established in your profession, you probably get many emails a week from individuals wanting to find out more about how to get into your profession. You get emails wanting advice and emails wanting to connect. Emails asking what to do, how much to charge, introductions to your clients, and where to find new clients. Emails to meet for lunch, when it’s all about what you can do for them. Of course, it’s perfectly reasonable to send such an email. I have sent a few of them myself, but many people who are established simply don’t have the bandwidth to respond to every email they get. They also pride themselves on being responsive and really hate this fact!
I therefore have come up with some suggestions about how to connect with and get a response from a busy, established person. Below are several ways in which this might be accomplished, but essentially these suggestions boil down to one concept: help them. Don’t offer to help them. Actually help them upon first contact. And—here’s the kicker–do NOT ask for anything in return.
I am not complaining, but I can count on one hand the number of times anyone has helped or offered to help in any of the ways listed below. Instead, I am usually being asked for a few minutes of my time, at no charge, with no offer of anything in return. I am not trying to be negative, I am just stating it like it is.
Here are some ideas for helping (and getting more than you ever would have asked for) from an established person:
• After raving about how much you appreciate their content or whatever it is they do, very politely point out a typo or error in their website or one of their books (if you find one of course). End it with “no need to respond to this–just thought you’d like to know. Thanks again for your amazing contributions.”
• If you are aligned with their way of thinking and they write a blog, write up a very excellent and interesting blog post that would be a great fit for their readers, email it to them and say “I am such a big fan and I wrote up this blog post. I thought it might be useful to your readers. If you don’t use guest bloggers, you are welcome to leave my name off.” If it’s a good post that they can actually use, you’ll bowl the person over and get a heartfelt thank you. (If anyone out there wants to try that approach with me, feel free!! just saying!!)
• Buy their latest book, write a glowing review with 5 stars, and email them the review letting them know again how valuable their book was to you and how you are going to tell everyone you know about it. Tell them you’ll Tweet about it and put it on your newsfeed in Facebook. Also tell them “no need to respond–just wanted to let you know.”
• If you are a fan and have some expertise that would help them, for example, they don’t have a podcast, and you know a lot about how to set up a podcast, or you know how to do a facebook ad campaign, or set up an Instagram account, or you have some time to write a page full of tweets for them to post, go ahead and offer this to them. This of course, assumes they are not a huge deal person who already has a team of people to do these things for them.
• Make a suggestion for a product that they don’t yet offer but that you know would benefit their audience. Not only that, do a little research about the idea and send them links to information on how to put together said product. For example, perhaps you’d like to see them offer a webinar on a given topic. If they haven’t done any webinars before, send them some links to useful how-tos on YouTube. Maybe even put together some slides with some research or resources on the topic of the webinar you’d like to see, and tell them they are free to use them if they are helpful.
• If you are fresh out of college, you probably know way more about social media etc than most established people. Or, maybe you are an English major and can help them write and edit their content. Or perhaps you can make a suggestion about how to make their content more accessible to young digital agers. Offer to do a free, part-time internship for them for a few weeks. Don’t say it’s because you want them to teach you, tell them you want to find stuff out and teach it to them.
Of course, all of these suggestions take time and energy, but that’s nothing less than what is being asked with a response to your email, right? Once you have helped them, most people will go out of their way to open doors for you without even being asked.