Have you ever dreamt of having a conversation with your heroes? Or reach out to the influent/important person that could skyrocket your business? Perhaps you’re looking for a mentor?
These kinds of people all have one thing in common: they’re busy. They also get contacted a lot and make a priority to protect their time from strangers. So how do you get noticed through the mass to reach and connect with busy people?
How to reach and connect with busy people via Email
Email is in my opinion the best way to reach and connect with busy people for 3 reasons: it’s time-effective, asynchronous and leaves you with tangible conversations.
Let’s start with some basics: busy people get a lot of emails every day, most of which they don’t read. As in everything you do, you will need to catch their interest, show you’ve done your research, say you won’t waste their time & provide value and then, get them to ask you for a favor (while in fact they’re doing one for you!).
Here’s one email that worked really well for me and got me the CEO of a multi-million dollar fashion company (valued at around 300m$ last time I checked) as a speaker for one of the events I organized.
Subject: Speaking opportunity at HEC Montréal
I hope all is well since we met on November 12th for lunch and conference you gave @HEC. (and I gather from your success that it is—I can’t seem to go a week without seeing XXX somewhere).
I know you place tremendous value on your time so I’ll be brief. I’m the president of the E-commerce association at HEC and we’re hosting a conference on the 30th of March at 6PM. I’m reaching out to you as the main speaker spot just opened up and we would really like to have you for our event.
We are in the process of booking the bigest venue of HEC (~200 seats) and will soon have some more detail.
Are you in? I’ll be happy to go more in detail about the topic & logistics of the event if it does.
Looking forward to your answer,
And the reply I got:
Yeah of course. If you can share further details on content – I’d be glad to speak.
Sent from my iPhone
This can work for you too and this post will help you achieve similar results.
2. Polish you subject line
As with every email, it all begins with a catchy subject line. Which of these 2 subject lines do you think will catch a busy person’s interest the most?
- Interested to connect
- Speaking opportunity at HEC Montréal
Option 2 all the way!
Your subject line should arouse interest in the busy person so that they take some of their precious time to open it. It should be asking or offering something (as an opportunity).
3. Ease in
A compliment on something they’ve achieved or something that impressed you never hurts.
4. Establish rapport (if you can) or prove you’ve done your research
You have three options here:
- You have a connection who can introduce you
- You’ve met the VIP in person
- You’re cold emailing
Either way, prove them you’ve done your research about the topic you’ll be discussing. Also, if you’re going to ask a question, make sure it is impossible to find the answer elsewhere.
5. Let them know you won’t waste their time + keep it short
A simple bold sentence will do the trick for the former. Remember how busy people hate time-wasters. This gives them the assurance you’re not after their precious time and won’t waste it.
Also make sure to keep it short so that you don’t sent 2 contradictory messages: a sentence saying that you’ll keep it short followed by massive paragraphs. Nope.
6. Get to the point & provide a clear call-to-action
Now if you’ve done your job properly, your busy reader will have read briefly through your email and wonder “What does he/she want?”.
The end of your email is where you want to ask what you wrote this email for in the first place. Bold it and ask a simple question they can answer in a few words or sentences. If you have more to ask go little by little as you don’t want to scare them.
Be sure to insist on what’s in it for them as that’s what they’ll base their decision on.
Other ways to reach busy people online
Email is the royal way of reaching busy people but the internet is magic in a way that it makes everyone closer. It also offers a huge number of ways to connect:
- Twitter: busy people tend to be very active on Twitter as it allows short and defined messages with a 140 characters limit.
- AMAs: if someone you want to reach is doing an AMA (Ask Me Anything), jump in and ask your question (you can have some friends help you by upvoting it). Best places to find those are
- Facebook live/Periscope: live video is a great place to interact with famous people. You can easily ask your questions and have them answered like I often do with Tim Ferriss, Loïc Le Meur or Chris Ducker.
- Tip: be active from the beginning & wait for the right moment to ask your question. This. Makes. All. The. Difference.
- Interview them or have them speak: what better way of building rapport? They are several ways of doing that:
- Interview them on your blog/podcast like I do on my interviews
- Have them speak at your event
- Facebook Message: if you manage to find them on Facebook and decide to send them a message, they’ll receive a message request (that includes your message) with the option to either accept or refuse it. You can use the same good practices as you’d use in emails there.
- Clarity.fm is a website that allows you to have a phone chat with experts while being charged by the minute. You can find a lot of VIPs there like Brian Balfour, Dan Martell, Nir Eyal or Eric Ries.
How to behave when you meet busy people IRL (in real life)
If you’re lucky enough to meet your target in person for a coffee (or else) don’t waste this opportunity. Here’s how to optimize your meeting:
- Do your research beforehand.
- Keep calm: VIPs are “normal people” who happen to be excellent at what they do and know for it. This could well be you soon if you growth hack your way to the top!
- Ask sharp questions that you’ve prepared and again, that couldn’t be answered with a google search: make the most of your time with the person.
- Don’t talk too much. You want to hear what they have to say and as sad as it may sound the reverse is not true.
- Find an excuse to follow-up.
At an event
If you’re planning to reach your busy people at an event, there are also some principles to follow.
First, be respectful and make sure they’re available aka don’t interrupt your VIP while they’re having a discussion or doing something else.
Don’t be weird and interrupt Tim Ferriss peing. If these people are at this particular event there is a reason for it whether it is to give a talk or meet a VIP themselves. And they’ll be focusing on that reason. What Ferriss suggests is rather to greet them shortly and give them a letter with your pitch including how to reach you. Make it the best letter of your life! A few advantages:
- You don’t interrupt them too much
- It’s not weird
- They can review it in their own time when they’re mentally available
On the Phone
Doing telemarketing and sales was one of the most important work experience I had because I learned how to hack my way pass the gatekeeper, put myself in the prospect’s shoes (I sold shoes 🙂 ) and close whatever deal there was.
The Gatekeeper is often the person standing between you and your target. If you reach a Gatekeeper when you call, be exceptionally nice as they’re goldmines of information about your target. Your job is not to sell to them but you still want to sound professional and prepared so that they take you seriously. If you can’t go past the gate, you may still gather useful information on the best ways to reach your target. You could ask about events they’re going to, if they’re doing live videos, asking for their email…
Another way to avoid the Gatekeeper is to call outside regular working hours i.e. before 9 AM and after 6 PM.
Follow-up: persistence is key to create and maintain a relationship
If you’re still trying to reach your targeted VIP, don’t give up too fast. If we talk about emails, imagine you’re in their shoes and receive 100’s of emails a day, it’s easy to get buried and simply not read all your emails. But if you see someone following up multiple times you’ll have this “(3)” near the sender’s email and take it more seriously. Usually, I wait a few days and if I don’t get a reply I simply follow-up telling the person it’s OK if they don’t have time. If I still have not caught the fish after this second try, I will send a third and last email following up and announcing it will be the last one, and that I will be giving what I was supposed to give them to someone else (for them, it will feel like they lost an opportunity).
Here are two tools tools to help you automate this:
- Boomerang for Gmail allows you to set easy email reminders (+ schedule emails)
- Rebump.cc “sends friendly follow-up messages to your email recipients for you. These automated emails are customized to appear as if you sent the email yourself.”
If you’ve established contact with your busy person, as with everything in life, persistence is key in order to reach and connect with busy people. What you really want in the long term is to establish a relationship with that person. No matter how you reached your VIP, email is the best way to maintain and develop this relationship in my opinion.
If you’ve met them, send a thank you email right away and follow-up a few weeks later with an email that explains how you’ve applied the pieces of advice they’ve given to you and the results it generated. Also, I like to send them some value-added information to follow-up, like a brand new awesome article around the topic you discussed.
Connecting with busy and important people is an incredible way of building your network and it helps you to move forward with insightful advice. Whether you do you it via email, in person, via social media or on the phone, it doesn’t have to be painful.
If you want it to work for you in the long-term, simply put yourself in their shoes, follow this advice and don’t be a jerk 🙂
Any other trick of your own? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter!