April 02, 2015

Relationship Building With Influencers, Executives, and VIPs


One of the biggest barriers to overcome in great relationship management is the moment of terror.

Know it? It happens right before you press that Send button. That fear that your message won't be welcome. That your contact, instead of thinking positively of you, will press the Delete key on your entire existence. And your business will spiral out of control, leaving you to join the circus. OK, maybe a bit too far there.

And, for some reason, that fear is only exacerbated when dealing with an executive, influencer, or some other type of high-profile individual. We've spoken before about how to overcome that baseline reticence to engage, so today I'll just provide you some guidance about how to approach improving your relationship with this particular group of people.

I want to respect your time, so if you just want to grab a tl;dr out of this, it's they're human too.

Let's take a critical look at who these people are, starting with their differences and similarities with you and others.


    • They are often more experienced, therefore can quickly pattern-match you against others.

    • They may have an assistant as an initial filter to get through.

    • They are "busier" - not to say that you aren't, but the symptoms are slow/no email response, curt replies, etc.

    • They have to be on the defense at all times - every dollar of their budget, minute of their time, screen pixel, brain cell, is being attacked.

    • They lean on others and delegate heavily.


    • They, on average, have the same number of appendages as you. Sorry, just had to throw that one in there.

    • They are human beings, with the same real-life problems that you encounter. Traffic sucked coming in this morning. Their dog needs to be walked. That creaky step. Still not understanding how LOST ended.

    • They are aspirational, or used to be. No matter how many years they possess under their belt, they still are run by internal goals, KPIs, stockholders. They want something just as much as you do.

    • They have the around the same number of hours in the day as you -- 24.

With that established, here are some guidelines for relationship building with influencers:

1. Just do it!
2. Keep it simple and to the point. Try limiting the email to three sentences.
3. Have one ask or point. An influencer probably doesn't have time to answer multiple requests, nor would they want to if they don't know who you are.
4. Find one point of entry. Yes, you can always use the latest company news or something they've written or been mentioned in - but try going a little deeper. Maybe ask what they meant in something they wrote? You have some notes about that, right?
5. If you're not asking for anything, throw in a quick note to that effect (NNTR - No need to reply!)
6. Align your ask with their goal. If they are an influencer or journalist -- they want to share something new or unique. If they are an executive, they want your solution to be THE thing that's valuable.
7. Keep in mind that your message might be forwarded to someone else, and don't be afraid to mention that as well.
8. Extend your follow-up cadence. It might take them a week to even mentally process your email, so following up three days after is not effective. We find that two weeks is acceptable to follow up on an unread message.

These guidelines can be adjusted to your needs and goals, but by not acting you're just wasting time. Now go!

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