The Ultimate Guide To Finding, Reaching, And Interviewing Top Influencers

 ·  21 Sep  ·  37 Comments
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If you’re reading this article then you either want to interview influencers yourself, or you’re looking for a surefire way to connect with them.

I’ve had many founders complain to me about their lack of contacts. How they wished they could just get so much as a toe in the door of influencers and just let them know they even exist. How to get past that wall of silence or, at best, the polite rejection.

Suddenly the world of entrepreneurship just seems a lot like high school all over again.

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It’s a well-known fact in the entrepreneurial world that on Wednesdays we wear pink.

One of the core principles of Foundr is that we give our audience access to exclusive interviews with top entrepreneurs.

Today, we’re able to interviews the likes Daymond John, Seth Godin, Tim Ferriss and many more.

So it comes as no surprise when we have members of our community ask us:

“How did you manage to land an interview with X?”

Like clockwork every time we publish the latest magazine issue, or upload our latest podcast episode, we will always have someone ask us just how exactly we managed get an interview with that influencer.

Well the truth is, it wasn’t always like this. You have to remember that, at the time of writing this article, it took Foundr over two and a half years to get to where we are today. There were a lot of mistakes and many lessons learned on the way.

You’re in luck because we’re going to share with you today these mistakes and save you from having to make your own. We’re going to share with you the ULTIMATE Guide to getting interviews with hard to reach influencers and the exact steps, tactics and strategies we use.

So here is how we do it.

THE definitive step-by-step guide on how to get your foot in the door for hard-to-reach influencers.

Step 1: Define Your Influencer
Step 2: Find Out How To Contact Them
Step 3: Value First, Ask Later
Step 4: Get On Their Radar
Step 5: Trading Up One Red Paperclip
Step 6: Landing The Interview

Strap yourselves in because this is going to be one doozy of a ride.

Step 1: Define Your Influencer

First of all you need to define who your influencers are.

While this seems relatively easy to understand, the gauging of an individual’s level of influence is actually a lot harder than you think.

Individuals like Richard Branson and Tim Ferriss obviously stand out as the pinnacle for entrepreneurs. But gasp did you know that the majority of the population don’t know who they are at all?

My 17-year-old sister knows more about YouTube sensation Pewdiepie than she does of the literal world-changing innovator Elon Musk.

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She literally said, “Isn’t he that guy from that movie?” Facepalm.

What Makes An Influencer?

That’s the tricky thing about influence. Not only does it vary wildly from audience to audience, but also in the different ways we rate influence.

For example, how do we compare an Instagram account with over 1 million followers to a blog with only 80 thousand email subscribers?

Traditionally speaking, we rate influence by the size of someone’s followers on social media. However just because someone is famous does not necessarily mean they are an influencer. Factors like credibility, consistency, and engagement all play a part.

Take a look at this handy influencer matrix drawn by the folk at Klout.

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In Malcolm Gladwell’s book The Tipping Point he describes how every society reaches its tipping point, whether socially, culturally, or economically, through a select group of people. He calls this “The Law of the Few.

He identifies three unique groups of people who are special for their incredible abilities to communicate, educate, and inspire.

There are connectors, those whose value come from their ability to spread a message through their wide social network. Mavens, whose expertise on a singular subject makes them the authority and influencer of that subject. And salesmen, the charismatic persuaders who are able to convince people to agree with them and follow their lead.

Get The Exact Email Templates We Use to Pitch For Interviews

When you’re looking at engaging with influencers, you have to make sure you’re engaging with the right ones. Individuals you know your audience will recognize and be receptive to.

Check out this infographic by Traackr on the many different faces of influencers.

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Rating Your Influencers

I’ve always liked using Klout when it comes to gauging the level of influence an individual has by giving a score out of a 100. While it is by no means perfect and has been criticized before for its scores, at one time ranking Justin Bieber higher than Barrack Obama in terms of influence, but I find it to be a fairly solid benchmark tool.

With Klout we’re able to get a general idea of who the influencers are in our niche, and work out whether or not they’re worth approaching.

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At Foundr we have two requirements when it comes to picking out influencers to feature in our magazine.

Disruptive and Proven.

By disruptive, we mean anyone that has changed the industry they’re in with their business. Like how Danae Ringlemann did with Indiegogo and the world of investment or Andy Puddicombe and how he changed the way people could learn meditation through Headspace.

Our magazine features and interviews are all about finding disruptive individuals and asking them to share their secrets for our audience.

But here comes the tricky bit: proven.

There are millions of unique and novel ideas out there in the world, but that means nothing if they’re not proven. This is why out of the over 200 pitches we receive a month we only pick, at most, one to feature as part of Foundr.

To us proven means that you’ve shown real lasting power. We’re not just looking for people who can reach the top, but those who can stay on top.

Because anyone can luck themselves into success, it’s another thing entirely to stay successful.

There’s a reason why, since it’s debut publication in 1982, only 36 of the original Forbes 400 can still be found on the list today.

Proven also means that they’re an authority on their subject. They are the mavens that Malcolm Gladwell writes about. People who are so educated about one topic they become the go-to individual for that subject. These are the most highly coveted type of influencer, specifically because their opinion is so highly valued by their audience.

If Seth Godin said the very next day that you should start eating pecan pie every single day in order to achieve success, I guarantee that you will see a massive spike in the amount of searches for pecan pie recipes.

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Although here’s a pecan pie recipe via Simply Recipes in case anyone was curious.

The Hero’s Journey

Ultimately though, when it comes to defining the right kind of influencer to feature under the Foundr umbrella, we take a look at their Hero’s Journey.

In short the Hero’s Journey is a classic sequence of actions found in many stories as defined by Joseph Campbell. Much like in fiction, many entrepreneurs walk a similar journey before ultimately finding success.

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For us at Foundr we want to find people near the end of their entrepreneurial journey. We examine their startup story and try to find their place in the hero’s journey, and if they’re not in the return part of their journey then they don’t qualify to be a part of Foundr.

After that it’s simply compiling a list of the people you want to interview and figuring out the best way to contact each one.

You can check out our editorial calendar for 2015. Each person was carefully chosen and we made sure to contact them all, at the very least, 4 months before our planned feature.

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Step 2: Find Out How To Contact Them

So now that you’ve defined your target, now it’s time to figure out how to contact them.

This is the key step that most entrepreneurs struggle with.

If the entrepreneurial world is high school, then reaching out to influencers is like asking the most popular girl out to prom.

At Entrepreneurial High, Tim Ferriss is Stacey Macintosh from 3rd period trig.

And just like asking someone out in high school you want to be forward, but not too forward. Assertive, but not creepy. Interested, but cool, like you’re putting in effort but it’s almost, like, effortless you know?

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As always the best way to contact someone is through a referral. Networking works best when it’s organic.

But networks take time to build and maintain, and it often takes years before you have a network that can organically makes introductions for you.

Identifying The Gatekeepers

You-shall-not-passThe first thing to remember when reaching out to an influencer, especially big name ones, is that they usually have a gatekeeper of some sort. Someone that decides for them whether or not your pitch is worth their time.

Key words to look out for are: marketer, public relations, partnership, community, and any variation of the above.

“Treat handlers (assistant, publicist, manager, associate) with respect. Not only is this the right thing to do, but this could be the hand of the king—and they’ll later whisper into the king’s ear.” – Marc Ecko founder and CCO of Marc Ecko Enterprises.

The best way to find the gatekeeper is to go through LinkedIn.

While you could look through the “About Us’ page on their website, generally it’s not filled with much useful information outside of a name. But finding someone on LinkedIn guarantees that they are an active employee, not just a contractor, and you have a surefire way to contact them.

Here’s an example of what happens when you take a look at the LinkedIn for Zapier.

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Already you’re given the option to view the LinkedIn profiles of 26 employees at Zapier.

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By scrolling through the page you can already view two names that are of interest to you as potential gatekeepers to the founders of Zapier. While you could contact one of the co-founders directly, it’s best to be professional at first and go through the right channels.

Foundr’s Secret Tool #1

Next up you can utilise Foundr’s next secret weapon, a Google Chrome plugin called Email Hunter to find out their email.

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The great thing about finding people through LinkedIn is that they need a legitimate email in order to create an account. Email Hunter also is an incredibly powerful tool that straightaway gives me the ability to contact my target directly.

Another really cool feature of Email Hunter is that it also scours a website for any registered and previously listed email addresses. I’ll show you what I mean with the Foundr website.

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Why is this an uber cool feature that you should be paying close attention to?

Well most influencers have their own personal blogs. If you can find their blog, you can immediately find their email address.

While most of the time if you already know the name of your target influencer all you have to do is type into Google: “[influencer’s name] blog”. Here’s another little trick I use for hard-to-find blogs of influencers.

You can use the “Influencers” tool in Buzzsumo, all you need is their Twitter handle in order to find out the personal blog that it’s associated with.

Here’s an example featuring Seth Godin:

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You’re then redirected to their personal blog where you can use Email Hunter to find out their email address so you’re now able to contact them directly!

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Pretty sweet right?

But Email Hunter isn’t 100% fool proof and sometimes it’ll be unable to gather a contact email unless you’re on the right page, and even then it might throw up a few email addresses you’re unsure about.

Which is why you can try using this old-school trick with who.is.

Foundr’s Secret Tool #2

Who.is is an incredibly powerful tool which scrapes the data behind a domain name including the registrant email address and best of all it’s free to use!

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You can’t purchase a domain unless you have a legitimate email address to register with. Also depending on what hosting service you use it provides various other details.

Although please do be aware that you should NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES take advantage of any other personal details listed.

It comes off as incredibly unprofessional, and more often than not, incredibly creepy. Find out how these influencers prefer to be contacted and respect that.

There are times when Who.is will not work though. There are a handful of influencers who mask their emails, and depending on their hosting service there won’t be a publicly viewable email at all.

Foundr’s Secret Tool #3

So you’ve exhausted all your options, what do you do now?

You guess.

I cannot even begin to count the amount of times Foundr has simply guessed the email of an influencer. But it’s not like we send dozens of emails to different accounts and hope for the best.

Instead we rely on another nifty Gmail plugin called Rapportive.

Rapportive is a plugin that allows you to check the authenticity of an email. Check out this example with Foundr’s very own CEO here:

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As you can see email addresses Rapportive doesn’t respond any email addresses that aren’t valid.

Generally most official email addresses are structured like this:

[Influencer’s first name]@[influencer’s business].com.

However some businesses don’t follow this standard, so try mixing it up and seeing what happens. Maybe they only use their initials, or they include their job title. Generally you’ll find the email address you’re hunting for fairly quickly.

Although Rapportive can feel restricted because of its reliance on LinkedIn. For anyone looking for more functionality you can try different plugins like Discover.ly, Rapporto, Ark, Vibe, or Connect6.

Foundr’s Secret Tool #4

To cap it all off at Foundr we use a great tool called Rebump for influencer outreach.

Without it we wouldn’t have landed any of the interviews we’ve had.

Rebump is an insanely powerful tool for Gmail. Basically if you’ve tagged an email to be rebumped, it will periodically send reminder emails until the person replies.

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You’re also able to customise the amount of rebumps you send, the message, and the length of time until the next rebump. Make sure to personalise it as much as possible, anyone can tell the difference between a real personality and a template.

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Now some of you may cringe at the thought of using such a service, but I can guarantee that it produces results.

There have been a number of times when using Rebump has garnered a positive response. Initial emails can get lost, sometimes people forget to reply, and the ability to “set and forget” followup emails frees up much needed mental space.

Step 3: Value First, Ask Later

So now that you know how to contact your target influencer, it’s time to make the introduction.

You only get one chance at a first impression, and in the entrepreneurial world that’s the difference between a multi-million dollar investment or a door in the face.

So from the very get go you need to start building a relationship of trust. But how about do you about building a relationship of mutual trust?

Well for one, you avoid the classic mistake of all young entrepreneurs:

Make sure you’re providing value, instead of just extracting value.

Put yourself in the other person’s shoes, why would they want to donate their time and effort into helping you? What’s in it for them?

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When time is money, right off the bat you have to show that person you’re worth their time.

The Gift of Value

Nothing builds trust faster than providing unwarranted value.

Now value is a word that gets tossed around a lot these days. It can mean anything from sending a gift, to providing valuable information.

“The basic idea is to provide something of value to the people who might be interested in something from you. It could be an industry report, a product comparison, a how-to booklet, an instructional video, an educational white paper, or a free trial. Anything that provides real value to the prospect is a short-cut to building trust.” – Michael DesRochers, CEO of MicroArts.

The key to remember is that the value you’re giving is a gift, it’s not an investment. Remember that the influencer no obligation to reply to you. If they do then that’s great, if not then all you can do is move on.

When you reach out to an influencer it’s already implicit that you want something from them. After all it’s very rare in the business world that you start talking to someone new unless you want something.

There’s no need to draw attention to the fact.

It’s kind of like how my family never brings up that time my cousin ran over my aunt’s cat at family gatherings. Instead we exchange presents, we drink, and someone eventually gets sent to the hospital. As is tradition.

The key is to provide so much value that it’s an absolute no-brainer that someone should do business with you.

At Foundr we bring lots of value to anyone we choose to reach out to. Our main asset is that we offer great exposure and publicity. For example, today Foundr commands a 80 thousand plus mailing list. Anyone that’s featured in our magazine, our blog, or our podcast is immediately exposed to over 80 thousand potential customers.

Not to mention the level of our magazine subscribers, our social media channels, or podcast downloads!

But Jonathan! I hear you shout. We’re not Foundr, or a digital publication! We can’t provide value like yours!

Relax my friends. I wouldn’t be writing a 6 thousand plus article for you if I wasn’t trying to help you. You don’t have provide the same type of value as us. But you do need to figure out the kind of value only you can provide.

“Give, give, (then) get.” – Porter Gale.

Different Ways To Be Valuable

The easiest way to provide value to an influencer is to think about the type of value you already give to your customers already with your product or service.

If you’re writing a book then maybe you could send a copy of your book. If you’re a SaaS you could provide a free trial or membership. It’s not uncommon for some businesses to send gifts directly to influencers.

Although be careful when sending out gifts. I guarantee that anyone that has the power of influence gets dozens of free gifts every week, if not every day.

We’ve only been operating for a little over two years now, yet we quite frequently get of emails like these:

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Marc Ecko routinely sends out what he calls “Swag Bombs” to influencers he wants to connect with. Personalised, yet professional, gifts to influencers designed to leave an impression in their mind. You can check out his ten rules on building a swag bomb here.

David Siteman of Rise To The Top likes to make sure he’s ready to help out his target influencers on their “Big Day in whatever way possible. Whether they have a new product coming out, or they have a big announcement or something. David will help them out for free.

It’s touches like these that make you stand out.

Value of Knowledge

But the best kind of value is knowledge.

It’s a bit of a cliche but knowledge is power. Especially knowledge that only you have.

What influencers covet the most is information that they don’t have. So if you’re in a position to teach an influencer something they don’t know, then don’t be afraid to take advantage of that opportunity.

Another one of our key assets is the fact that we have absolutely mastered Instagram. Being the key holder to that kind of knowledge means that we’ve had many influencers come to us asking to help them with their Instagram. By having this bit of knowledge we’ve been able to consistently keep landing interviews with influencers.

As the very last resort you could always pay them for their time. But I would advise against that. Unless you’re absolutely desperate to interview this person, you can move on and find someone else.

But if you really want to cut through the noise you have to be imaginative, but most importantly, be genuine.

No one likes knowing that they’re only being contacted for the sole purpose of being used. The best way to build a positive relationship with an influencer is to forget that you want something from then in the first place. Be a friend first and foremost.

The cardinal rule of building a business relationship is to focus on the relationship first, and the business part second.

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Step 4: Trading Up One Red Paperclip

But knowing how to contact someone doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll automatically be able to land an interview with them.

After all it literally took Foundr years to be able to be able to regularly interview such noteworthy entrepreneurs.

The one concept you need to quickly understand when it comes to landing an interview with influencers is trading up the chain.

Some of you may be familiar with the term if you’ve ever read the book Trust Me I’m Lying by media strategist wunderkind Ryan Holiday.

In his book Holiday explains how you can gain mainstream news coverage by using the power of leverage.

The basics are that you first feed a story you want exposure on to small blogs and generate a conversation. Then you strategically ensure that larger blogs are taking notice of it so they’ll feature it as well because all blogs want to increase their blog traffic. Then you’ll approach mainstream media outlets and ask they why they aren’t covering such an obviously newsworthy story. Because major news outlets hate being on the tail-end of a good story, they’ll almost always run it. And there you go, free mainstream news coverage of your story.

That’s how you trade up the chain.

But what does this have to do with interviewing influencers?

What is Social Proof and Why Should I Care?

What you’ll quickly understand is that the real value you’re leveraging isn’t in the content itself, but the social proof.

Social proof is the psychological phenomenon where you feel validated in doing something because someone else is doing the exact same thing.

It’s kind of like how you excitedly queue up for hours for that ride at Disneyland because if the line’s so long then it just has to be good right?

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But in the end it’s nothing more than a semi-satisfying ride combined with equal doses of frustration and broken dreams.

But essentially the value in social proof is validation. It’s human nature to want to follow certain trends and groups after all we’re social creatures and it’s only natural to want to be validated by others for our choices. Whether it’s by the majority opinion, or an authority figure.

So what you’re really leveraging with social proof is the feeling that you should be doing something because everyone else is doing it.

Do any other readers remember the baffling hype surrounding the Segway? It was shrouded in mystery and everyone was talking about it. Social proof singlehandedly built up to what eventually lead to one of the most disappointing technological letdowns of our generation.

Heavyweight authority figures like Steve Jobs and John Doerr both enthusiastically endorsed it, predicting that it would reach $1 billion in sales faster than any other company before. Jeff Bezos claimed that “whole cities would be built around it“.

With such high amount of social proof the hype and expectation for the Segway was palpable. Until it turned out that, while a technological marvel, it was essentially a scooter. Leading to what may have been the world’s most unanimous awkward silence.

But you can see how much value is placed within the endorsement of an influencer.

The lesson is if you want to interview big name entrepreneurs, you need to leverage the social proof that you’ve already interviewed other big name entrepreneurs.

Foundr’s Red Paperclip

But how do you interview big name entrepreneurs if you don’t have that social proof?

You trade up the chain.

I invite you to remember another viral news piece going back in the days when email chains were a thing. I’m talking about the One Red Paperclip story.

For those unfamiliar the story, it all about blogger Kyle MacDonald and how he traded the one red paperclip for a pen, which he then traded for a doorknob, then he traded that a camp stove.

11 trades later within a year he had successfully bartered his way from one red paperclip to a two-story farmhouse.

That’s exactly what you need to do if you want to connect with big name entrepreneurs. You need to treat social proof like it’s a red paperclip, and you have to barter and leverage your way up to something greater. Unfortunately it’s not an overnight process.

It took months of hustling and grinding until we were able to release this issue of Foundr Magazine.

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It was this issue that made it all fall into place. Without this issue, without the social proof of Richard Branson gracing our cover, there is no way we could have had the leverage to pitch the likes of Arianna Huffington or Fabio Rosati. But to release that issue it took months of generating value and trading up the chain before we were able to land such an influencer. From there our newfound social proof allowed us to pitch bigger influencers and names and keep bartering for bigger prizes, turning our little red paperclip in something more.

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When Foundr started there was no way we could approach the people we do now without the accumulated value of over two years of interviewing disruptive and proven entrepreneurs.

Start Of The Chain

You don’t need to start big in order to be big. You just need to start somewhere.

And the easiest place to start is Amazon.

The key is to go to Amazon Books and to search for any upcoming releases in your niche.

In our case particular case it’s “Business and Money”.

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Then it’s just a matter of scrolling through until you find an author with the type of influence you’re looking for.

Most authors would love free publicity. Considering the fact that the average self-published author will sell less than 250 copies of their book many would agree to an interview in exchange for some free publicity. As long as you have a decent sized audience you can already leverage a ton of value to the author by promoting their book for them.

Other ways to start is to keep your ear to the ground and find any influencers who are about to start, or have just started, doing interviews for others. Examine your network, see if there are any ways you’ll be able to get referred to an influencer. You’ll find that you’re more likely to get a positive response through a referral.

Great Design, Great Return

Remember that it’s vitally important that you have a great website up and running, especially if you’re a new startup.

It doesn’t have be the best website in the world, but, at the very least, it has to look like you’re a legitimate business.

The first thing someone will do to gauge whether or not you’re worth their time is to check out your website. A great homepage makes or breaks any potential interest.

In all honesty the first homepage of Foundr wasn’t much to look at, but we did invest great time and effort into getting the design just right and it got the job done. It was this homepage that managed to carry us through our all our early interviews including Richard Branson!

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Today we have a much better looking homepage. You’ll notice that we immediately provide social proof by listing some of the the various entrepreneurs we’ve featured before.

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Occasionally on your entrepreneurial journey, if you hustle hard enough, you’ll get lucky. We never expected a reply from Richard Branson after only running as a business for three months.

But we did, and when the opportunity presented itself, we made damn sure we were ready for it.

Step 5: Get On Their Radar

If directly contacting someone isn’t your cup of tea then the next best thing to do is to find different ways to get on their radar.

One of the great things about the modern world is that everyone is on social media unless you’ve decided to live in the mountains.

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Even then you still get wi-fi.

Add Little Bits of Value

A low-cost-high-reward trick I learnt from Derek Halpern of Social Triggers is to send influencers content that I know they’ll appreciate.

Using the information I gathered from Step 2 I’ll send influencers links to articles, or books that I think they’d enjoy reading. One thing you’ll often  forget a lot of the time is that influencers are human too, and like us they only have so many hours in the day.

So influencers, bloggers especially, will always appreciate any bit of information that makes their lives a little bit easier.

Here’s a Tweet I sent to Kevan Lee the Content Crafter at Buffer. I even managed a double whammy by shouting out Dan Norriss of WP Curve and help promote his new book Content Machine at the same time.

Two influencers for the price of one tweet, not a bad deal.

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Now is this a groundbreaking tactic? No. Is this guaranteed to get me immediate results? No again.

But it’s a good ice-breaker and it let them know that I’m here and maybe, just maybe, I deserve a bit of their attention.

If you’re stumped on what kind of content to send them you can always use Buzzsumo to find out what kind of content they generally share.

If you know someone’s Twitter handle you can use Buzzsumo to view the types of links they’ve shared in the past. With this you get a decent grasp of what kind of content they enjoy reading.

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Another simple tactic I like to use, especially if they have their own blog, is to comment and share their posts. Like I’ve said before, all influencers will appreciate any assistance in growing their reach.

I know that I always appreciate it when anyone comments on any of my posts. And I can guarantee that does so consistently, or asks a questions, is way more likely to stay in my mind than someone who doesn’t.

Stop-being-invisibleIt’s impossible to start a relationship with someone who doesn’t know you exist.

Anyone else getting bittersweet flashbacks to high school? Nope? Just me? Okay, I’ll move on…

Have A Voice

I heavily rely upon this rule of thumb when it comes to connecting with, and becoming a, influencer:

The 90:9:1 ratio.

The 90:9:1 ratio, otherwise known as the 1 percent rule, is an observation made about communication on the internet.

Very similar to the Pareto Principle in that 80% of your outcomes comes from 20% of your effort.

The 90:9:1 ratio dictates that 90% of the online community are ‘lurkers’ people who don’t participate in the conversation, 9% contribute a little, and 1% are heavy contributors. Meaning that the vast majority of original content online only comes from 1% of internet users.

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So even if you casually post one thing, you’re already influencing 90% of the online community. Can you imagine how easy it is to jump on an influencer’s radar by just being active on the same forums they are?

Something I really enjoy doing is posting on Quora.

It doesn’t really have much to do with my work at Foundr, I always enjoy learning new things by reading other people’s answers, and I generally enjoy helping people out by answering their questions.

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A great side effect about my, admittedly nerdy, pursuits on Quora is that I have inadvertently become an influencer simply because it’s my go-to form of procrastination.

The best side effect though is the fact that I’ve been able to meet and connect with other influencers in my niche. Being a top 10 writer on Quora puts me on the radar of hundreds of influencers, all of whom immediately know what I do, who I represent, and the kind of value I bring.

Expand Your Network

A more proactive way to get on the radar of an influencer is to start going to events geared towards entrepreneurs. Meetup.com is a great way find any events near you. Go to events where an influencer you’re interested in interviewing is attending, or maybe even speaking. If you’re not coming off as overeager and manage to vibe with them on a normal level, then you might have a chance of getting them to agree to an interview.

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At Foundr we also make a point to maintain positive relationships with various Public Relations and Marketing firms. As the gatekeepers to many different influencers and entrepreneurs,  the contacts and networks they could provide is worth more than gold in this industry.

Many Public Relations and Marketing firms are tasked with finding press for their clients. If you can show them that you’re a media source, that you’re legitimate, and can make them look good. Then it’s a no-brainer for them to introduce you to an influencer.

Meeting someone in-person still beats online marketing.

Contacting someone directly is a big move, not to mention an inherently risky one. Depending on your pitch you either immediately start at a high point of trust, or immediately create a negative impression of yourself.

Get The Exact Email Templates We Use to Pitch For Interviews

Trying to get on someone’s radar through various social media channels, and similar tactics is all about building that trust slowly, but assuredly with small acts of value.

So when you do eventually make your pitch they already recognise your name, the value you bring, and are much more open to the idea of doing business with you.

Step 6: Landing The Interview

Remember at the end of the day, you can do everything right, but it’ll all count for nothing if you can’t stick the landing.

The reality is that while this looks like six easy steps, these six steps can span over the course of months, maybe even years. Be ready to be waiting for a long time until you manage to land an interview with your target influencer.

Until then get ready for a stream of polite rejections, lack of replies, and flat out refusals. But just because an influencer said “no” for now doesn’t mean that you should give up or stop providing.

Who knows what they’ll say in a couple months time. It all comes down to being persistent.

Where’s The Value In Your Pitch?

I can safely tell you that Foundr has many more pitch drafts we’re sitting on for dozens of different entrepreneurs. We’re just waiting for the time where we’re confident enough to ask for an interview, and that might take a while.

Until then it’s a process of increasing our own value, network, and social proof until it’s an absolute no-brainer that our target influencer would want to do an interview with us.

Also keep in mind that it took years for Foundr to generate the type of value it has today. Here’s the exact email we used to pitch Richard Branson to be a part of Foundr back when we were just over three months old.

email_screenshot_branson

One thing you’ll notice is that we always mention the benefits of working with us first, before listing our features.

Copywriting 101: always mention the benefits first.

For any pitch you make, especially if you’re going cold, you need to make it such a no-brainer you’ve already closed the deal before they even finish reading your pitch.

Compare that to a pitch we just sent recently.

Screenshot 2015-09-18 19.52.15

As you can see not much has changed, our value has grown but the template remains more-or-less the same.

As always we make sure to bring value first, whether it’s through our reach or social proof, before asking for an interview, and we make it clear how we can benefit the influencer.

Always Be Professional

Remember that when writing a pitch email you need to be as precise and to the point as possible. There’s no room for fluffy writing when it comes to writing a pitch. Always strive to speak in plain language. Pitches are not the place to be practising your prose. Your reader will more than likely not appreciate it, and there’s even a chance they won’t even understand what you’re saying.

A common mistake people make when it comes to “the ask” is that they try to hide their awkwardness in asking for an interview by overloading on the compliments. It just comes off very awkward to read.

Remember there is a difference between writing a complimentary email and a pitch, don’t combine the two.

While you should always aim to be genuine, never sacrifice your professionalism.

Unless you’re writing an email specifically to thank your influencer for something, there’s no need to gush over how much you  love their work. If you’re trying to start a business relationship then coming off as a blushing schoolgirl is not the way to go.

Working On Their Time

One last thing: remember to be mindful of their time.

Anyone with the power of influence is generally an incredibly busy person. You don’t get to be at that level if you weren’t making the most out of every single day.

A key benefit to mention is how little time it would take to be interviewed. You want to do your best to work on their schedule, not yours.

Part of the hustle for Nathan when it comes to interviewing influencers is the fact that the majority of them live in a completely different time zone. It’s not uncommon for Nathan to wake up at 4am in order to conduct an interview.

When it comes to “the ask” a lot of people are afraid of being rejected, that somehow being told “no” means the end of the road.

What most people forget in the entrepreneurial world is that “no” could very well mean “try again later”.

Until then it’s your job to keep on providing value and to keep on hustling.

So congratulations, you now know how to land an interview with an influencer.

You’re now equipped with Foundr’s exact process of how we find, reach out to, and interview hard-to-reach influencers and entrepreneurs.

Stay tuned for an upcoming article where we’ll break down just how we make sure that none of that effort goes to waste and ensure a fantastic interview.

As always please like and share if you’ve enjoyed this guide, and we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Get The Exact Email Templates We Use to Pitch For Interviews

Jonathan Chan
jonathan@foundrmag.com

Jonathan is the Content Crafter and Marketer for Foundr. You can often find me happily writing about anything to do with entrepreneurship and the startup scene. Or spending way too much time pretending to be the next MMA star at the gym.

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  • http://www.romanticmissions.com Richard Phu

    Ahhhh Great post!!
    If only I had read this before contacting you guys…
    *Embarrassed smile*

    I really enjoyed the cool tools you shared, but I really loved the Amazon tip.
    I’m sure this guide also came from a lot of mistakes over the 2+ years as well 🙂

    Loving your work!

    Richard

    • http://foundrmag.com Jonathan Chan

      Thanks for the kind comment @richardphu:disqus 🙂

      Haha we all make mistakes, but thanks for reaching out to us again!

      Trust me when I say this article was truly 2 years in the making, just glad we could share our knowledge so you don’t have to make the same mistakes we did in the future.

  • eastsidehigh

    I’m a new reader of foundr (found you guys on Instagram) but I’m already a huge fan of the content you guys consistently provide. I’m a recording artist/producer but in today’s industry we also HAVE to be entrepreneurs, you guys are becoming one of my go to places for good content on entrepreneurship! Thanks for all you guys do!

    IG: @eastsidehigh
    Twitter: @eastsidehigh_

    • http://foundrmag.com Jonathan Chan

      Glad we could help @eastsidehigh:disqus, we’re all about providing the tools they need, as long as you provide the hustle!

      Keep hustling!

  • patty

    this is a great post, nicely done. Important to note that this process take time and consistency… nurturing the relationships over time.

    • http://foundrmag.com Jonathan Chan

      Thanks so much for your comment @disqus_39Z9NXdI87:disqus yes it’s true that this is a process that takes a lot of patience. But doesn’t mean that it’s unachievable! You could say that this article was over two years in the making.

  • Bernard

    This article was packed with great content and strategy.. Thanks guys!

    • http://foundrmag.com Jonathan Chan

      Anytime @disqus_CMleXmopoV:disqus, anytime 🙂

  • http://www.oversizedgymtowel.com Jared Rogers

    BOOM — amazing job guys, this guide is phenomenal!

    My day job’s LCD screens aren’t great, but I’m having a hard time reading the awesome info-graphic towards the top called “The Many Faces of Influence”. An adjustment in color might really make that pop.. for those of us at work reading entrepreneurship articles ha!

    Cheers, and thanks again for the amazing guide!

    • http://foundrmag.com Jonathan Chan

      Will definitely look into that, thanks for the suggestion!

      Hope you’re having a great day, and glad we could provide.

      • http://www.oversizedgymtowel.com Jared Rogers

        Without question – just feedback from viewing on the cheap stuff ha.

        Hoping the same for you as well! You guys are destroying it!

  • Aurorah

    Great job Jonathan! This is extremely informative and helpful to me. I would have never thought to search LinkedIn in an effort to connect to someone that I would want to interview. I’m new to LinkedIn and have been trying to learn just about everything from creating a great profile to gaining followers to interact with. Totally love this article! Keep bringing us all of this good stuff!

    • http://foundrmag.com Jonathan Chan

      LinkedIn is a great tool for entrepreneurs, many are surprised by what you can achieve with it!

      I highly suggest you check out our friend David Hobson who is a LinkedIn master and often runs webinars and workshops on making the most out of LinkedIn. You can find him here: https://au.linkedin.com/in/davidmhobson

      Thanks so much for the comment, and just glad I could help 🙂

    • http://foundrmag.com Jonathan Chan

      Thanks so much @disqus_cCkJEoC09B:disqus 🙂

      LinkedIn is a very powerful tool for all entrepreneurs, there are definitely a lot of different ways you can utilise it to help grow your business!

      We’ll keep bringing out awesome content if your promise to keep reading it!

  • Gin McInneny

    This is a great post Jonathan. Will definitely be sharing it with our audience this week.
    PS. It’s Wednesday an no one told me I had to wear pink. I feel so out of place and embarrassed.

    • http://foundrmag.com Jonathan Chan

      Thanks @ginmcinneny:disqus!

      Don’t worry I committed a fashion faux pas as well, turns out I wasn’t wearing salmon pink but sunset glow. You can imagine my mortification.

  • Bin Teo

    Wow, thanks for the epic post! Love your stash of secret tools/methods for the identifying email addresses especially 🙂

    • http://foundrmag.com Jonathan Chan

      We do what we can for the Foundr community @hengbin:disqus 🙂

  • http://www.theflowzone.club Zulu Flowzion

    Made

  • http://www.theflowzone.club Zulu Flowzion

    Made it through this entire post finally. Very good. Got hold of Nate re the Josh Campbell thing. Grand to see you got onto that quickly. Loved the article, you go alright Jonathan. Keep up the good work. You guys are onto a good thing with foundr. You’ve aligned with a good man in Nate Chan too. Blessings

    • http://foundrmag.com Jonathan Chan

      Thanks for the kind words @zuluflow:disqus, yeah I’m very lucky to be a part of Foundr, wouldn’t want any other job in the world!

  • http://thepitch.vc Josh Muccio

    Well, that was incredible. Took me over an hour to read since I clicked on most of the links along the way… ? My cofounder recommended I read this as our podcast, The Pitch, needs 2-3 influencers per episode ? So it’s a major pain point for us. Seriously, thank you Jonathan.

    • http://foundrmag.com Jonathan Chan

      Glad to be of help @joshmuccio:disqus 🙂

  • http://wpcurve.com/ Dan Norris

    Epic post guys, well done. I’ve shared this in my group. Funny my Twitter is @thedannorris not @dannorris so I never saw that tweet but thanks! Kevan did reach out to me so I eventually figured it out ha.

    • http://foundrmag.com Jonathan Chan

      Haha yeah that’s my bad…

  • http://www.michellecarden.com Michelle Carden

    Brilliant post Jonathan & Nathan. You guys are killing it!

    • http://foundrmag.com/ Nathan Chan

      Thanks @michellecarden:disqus – Glad you enjoyed this one! @disqus_pYZOHMKYCy:disqus did an amazing job!

  • http://www.slowhustle.com Peter Awad/Slow Hustle Podcast

    Great post Jonathan!

    • http://foundrmag.com Jonathan Chan

      Thanks 🙂

  • Lisa

    Amazing guide! I especially liked the 90:9:1 rule…lately I’ve moved from being a lurker to a intermittent contributor. Who knew it would make that much of a difference?!

    PS – it’s now Wednesday, and I don’t own anything pink. Can I get away with wearing a rich mauve?

    • http://foundrmag.com Jonathan Chan

      Glad you enjoyed it Lisa!

      Some say that the 90:9:1 rule is quite archaic in today’s world, but I still find that it’s a great rule of thumb that remains true for the most part. Definitely just posting every now and then does wonders.

      And I’ll allow mauve for now haha ;D

  • http://foundrmag.com Jonathan Chan

    Great to see that you enjoyed the article Flora. Hope you’re kicking some massive goals over where you are!

  • http://foundrmag.com Jonathan Chan

    Always happy to Robert, thanks for the comment!

  • Meghan

    Awesome post – thank you for sharing!

    • http://foundrmag.com Jonathan Chan

      Happy to see that you’re enjoying it @disqus_QZbd2nSrIi:disqus

  • Krithika Rangarajan

    Thank you for penning one of the BEST articles on ‘influencer marketing’.

    Kit

  • Kimani Patrick

    Great Post, this article has greatly helped me.