Connecting with a major CEO, Celebrity, Author, Investor, Entrepreneur, etc. can be a daunting task if you aren’t armed with the tools and mindset that you need.
Before I tell you HOW to do it, you need to understand the WHY and mentality of these typically hard to reach people.
I was recently involved in a business where we had to reach high-level executives on a regular basis. The businesses success or failure literally depended on it. In this business, there were different opinions on how to reach these high-level people. We tried many methods ranging from- constant aggressive bombardment and harassment to more carefully planned out “pitches” to get what we wanted. I’m going to share with you what I have learned.
Stop harassing them, it lowers your value.
Sometimes consistency can be a tactic, but harassment is not. It turns me off completely when someone goes from consistent follow up to harassment. It also lowers your value a lot because you look desperate. A person with many options isn’t going to endlessly invest time and harass you to get a response because they have other options. If someone doesn’t respond to me after reasonable attempt, I almost always stop or take a completely different approach with a solid pitch.
You must have a pitch.
Bombarding someone without an approach is a losing strategy. You need a well thought-out pitch to get a result. If you haven’t even thought about what your pitch is, chances are it’s not going to be effective.
In the company I was recently involved that required reaching the high-level executives for everyone to get paid, I started to learn the ins and outs of what it actually took to get a favorable response.
I see people on Twitter all the time trying to reach someone like Mark Cuban (@mcuban) they send messages directly to him such as “I have a great idea for you @mcuban” or “Answer me, damn it!”
How do you think those did? If you guessed not too well, you were right. This is not a pitch, this is just bombing someone and trying to get an emotional response. Secondly, there are hundreds, maybe thousands of people trying to get ahold of him every day. Your pitch, or lack thereof, is not going to work especially in a sea of spam.
The next problem is that your “pitch” doesn’t have any meat on the bones. Unless you are also famous and succsesful, chances are he’s not going to see any value in your pitch. You haven’t done anything other than send a very poorly written, not so intriguing message. You need credibility to back up intrigue. Even repeatedly blasting them with this spam doesn’t do anything other than annoy them. Make sure your pitch is good.
A good pitch is juicy and leaves you wanting more. You have to believe really in what you are pitching, love it, and have the credibility to back it up. If you are asking for money and don’t have a track record with this or another business, then it’s going to be that much more difficult.
Take Shark Tank for example, the hit show that Mark Cuban is on. When someone comes in and asks for tons of money, with no sales, and no idea what they are doing they are pretty much dead in the water. While I understand that not everyone can have sales on a newer company, you should at least have a really solid pitch as to how and why you are going to make it a success.
Introductions are crucial.
Perhaps the most important thing that I have learned is that an introduction almost always works better than a cold call/email. You have to keep in mind that if this person is extremely successful then there are tons of others also trying to reach out on a daily basis. They are probably not even going to look at your email. But, if it comes from a trusted ally, friend or colleague, then they will not only open the email but in fact be way more likely to respond. That’s because that if this friend, colleague or ally is of any value to them, they know they wouldn’t refer someone with a poor, irrelevant pitch.
To reach the CEO, don’t go directly to the CEO.
As a CEO myself, I don’t arrange the majority of my calls and meetings. If someone were to send me a request, and I wasn’t that interested I would either not respond or send it on to someone else to look at. That’s because I barely have the time/energy to deal with what’s on my plate already, let alone a random inquiry with no credibility. However, if that person were to contact a gatekeeper at my company and convince them that it was a good idea then it would be much more likely that I would take the meeting. LinkedIN is a great way to look up other people at the same company and instead of going directly to the CEO first, you go to an assistant, admin, etc that can connect you if your pitch is good.
If you get rejected, improve your pitch.
If you get rejected, focus on improving your pitch or selecting someone else to pitch to. Instead of spamming the same people with your pitch that they didn’t like, improve it and go after new targets. There is a book called Pitch Anything that I really like on pitching successfully. Lastly, not everyone will respond the same to your pitch. Some will love it, some will hate it. That’s just more reason to find more people to pitch to instead of pitching to the same ones.
At the end of the day, have a solid pitch, multiple people to pitch to, and find a clever way to get a personal referral. You’ll be way ahead of everyone else.
Brian is an Inc. 500 Entrepreneur, who built the 25th fastest growth marketing and advertising agency in America. Brian is an advisor to many startups and mentor to many entrepreneurs. He is a columnist at the world’s top publications. Brian is the Founder of Influencive and the Founder at BDE Ventures.