How do I expand my network with people who are MORE influential than I am? I'm looking for tips and tricks to do this online (with LinkedIn, etc)

They say that when you reach out to someone online (over email, LinkedIn, etc), you should give value before you ask for something from them, and I understand that. How do you provide value to someone who you've never met before? If you consider yourself influential (someone that other professionals are likely to respond to and connect with), what do you look for when you decide which contact requests to accept? If you are not well known, what strategies have worked (or not worked) for you? Thanks..


I've done a lot of work in this space (created the new art of conference network: Hashtags to handshakes). Here are a few thoughts for you:
-get clear on you goal(s) and the type of people who can help you.
-take inventory of what you have to offer(use this acronym Work history, Hobbies, Education, Network)
-once you see the people you want to connect with, do the online research to see if you already have something or someone in common(LinkedIn).
-read and comment on their content or something in their profile.
-Invite them to 15min virtual coffee as an introduction call. (Be in a "how can I be of assistant mindset)
-ask them two question during your virtual coffee (1. What are you working on that you're most passionate about? 2. What the biggest challenge?). Once you know someone's challenge you can find ways to be helpful.
-Be patient.
-let me know if you need more support ;)

Answered 10 years ago

Thanks for your question. This line of thinking often comes up when talking about connections between junior employees and more senior employees within one company, between community members and those deemed as icons in the area, between people for whom there is a significant age gap. What I have found is irrespective of your title or your position or your status in the community or your age, you ALWAYS have something of value to offer. For starters, think about what you can provide to the person with whom you seek a connection.

By way of example, I often share with young people that their technology and/or social media prowess is likely to be far greater than that of more senior people in their companies or by older members of their communities. As such, they have that expertise to offer in return.

Another example is for very senior leaders in an organization, they are often disconnected from the realities that plague their customer base – a more junior person can offer better insight into what is really going on out there on the street.

In terms of who do I decide to connect with when others reach out to me, my general approach is always to say, “Yes!” to connecting. That said, if I receive a request to connect via LinkedIn but the requester does not tell me how we know one another, why we should connect or what mutual value we can provide to one another, I do not accept the invitation.

When I am the one doing the asking, whether it is to a person of great influence or otherwise, I always seek a mutual connection. If our mutual connection is willing to make an introduction, half the battle is already won! Even if our mutual connection is willing to let me use his/her name when I reach out to the person of influence, that individual is much more likely to accept my invitation if he/she knows we have someone/something/some place in common.

I welcome your additional thoughts.

Answered 10 years ago

There is no one size fits all approach in this regard and part of it has to do with the brand you have already developed for yourself. I have mentored startups and people looking to get into broader networks and from personal experience as previous experts have noted, you have to show interest in them and explain why there is value in connecting with you. I would first find the LinkedIN groups they are part of in which you share a common interest. Start populating into those group with relevant content or commentary. This way it will not be a "cold call" as they may have read or at least seen your name pass by their screen. This also works in Twitter where you can follow them and post content or reply intelligently to tweets they post. Offline you can attend presentations, meetups and/or conferences in the same area to meet with 2nd connections who could also introduce you. The other common method is via referral if you have a connection through a colleague or friend.

Answered 10 years ago

First, schedule a call to talk with me about this so I can walk you through exactly how to connect with influential people. ;)

Next, always respect people's time. I've had the opportunity to connect with people that are very influential in my field and the number one secret is to respect their time. Even five minutes to read an email is a lot of time. Keep things short, and don't do anything that has the expectation of using any of their time.

Another way to connect is to offer suggestions or to participate in a conversation. Like, "Hey, I noticed this typo on your page. Not trying to be a grammar police but thought you might like to know." Or on Twitter, "Wow, loved your post on Inc. I really learned a lot. Thanks!" Being conversational like this without being annoying is good.

Asking questions is also good, so long as it doesn't require a lot of the readers time. People respond to questions on Twitter and via email more than anything else.

Last but not least, do everything without expecting anything in return. If you send an email with the expectation of connecting so you can get something out of the relationship, you're doing it wrong. You should be getting in touch without expecting anything in return.

Those are some of the things I practice and have found to work for me. Feel free to get in touch if you have more questions. ;)

Answered 10 years ago

I feel like you may be missing some key points to your strategy. It comes across a bit self-centered and that may be why you may find it hard to define the value for others. There is more I could ask about your strategic planning process but I'd like to focus on sharing a resource that I believe has the potential to bring meaningful awareness in your case.

Have you taken the StrengthsFinder assessment and understand your Top 5 Strengths (Signature Themes)?

Each strength has the potential to have a strategic partner. Understanding these is essential to building meaningful partnerships.

You want to build your strategy on being a generous partner to those who can benefit from your strengths, and seeking partnerships that can help maximize yours, not just based on fame or perceived influence but objective guidelines. In short, build on collaboration.

Build your strategy on who can benefit from your offering, and not on what offering can you create to benefit your strategy.

I'd be happy to point you to resources that can help, but ultimately you will need someone to mentor and guide you in this process. All the best, Aurora

Answered 10 years ago

One of the ways I expanded my network was to start podcasting. Staring a podcast gave me an excuse to reach out to people "higher on the food chain" with an offer of exposure. Most people will say yes - especially if they are launching a book or in promotion mode.

Another way to reach out, is to become part of their circle... take classes from them, participate in their community.

Answered 10 years ago

One thing you can do is simply show up at various networking events that occur in every city. This can be anything from the local accountant's association monthly luncheon to an angel group, or the board of a theater, and so on. By showing up, you'll naturally find that there are interesting questions to be asked, and comments to be made. And from that, the beginnings of your network are born.

Answered 10 years ago

always follow up a connection request / connection invite with a phone call. ALWAYS.

Answered 10 years ago

We tend to hangout with someone that we found interesting to talk to especially when the subject is related to what we love the most. Highly unlikely we want to spend our time with someone that is cold..boring. Same goes to the person that you wish to impress.

We may apply the same concept online. Just find out the person's interest... Let say, he love martial arts and have active conversation in few groups. Join the groups, and start talking the same language.. until he notice that you're the interesting one to talk to. You may have high chances to meet him for a coffee. Based on my experience, it works like magic! the great part is.. we became good friends. Cheers


Answered 10 years ago

Thank you for the question. I've been on both sides of the connection, and Carolynn's advice was spot on. You can't approach it as "I need a trick to get to this person." Offer genuine helpfulness to people you genuinely want in your network because their work helped you out in some way,

Never waste someone's time. Never assume they even have time to give you. Never ask for a favor-- especially the type of favor request he or she typically gets bombarded by. (Example: Music manager = never ask for tickets, autographs, or to meet their artists.)

I often see the advice of "find out that person's interests and talk with them about it" but more often than not it comes off as smarmy, and most high profile business people have keen radar for people who try to force a common interest. (It can also come off as stalkerish.) Plus, if someone mentions in Forbes that they enjoy purple peanut butter sandwiches and go-go dancing with polkadotted unicorns, their email, Twitter, and Facebook will suddenly be filled with people who "just happen" to be purple peanut butter sandwich eating go-go dancing polkadotted unicorns! So how does that person know who's genuine about that interest, and who's just trying to get to them via any means possible? They don't, so all those unicorns are suspicous. I just don't recommend going there.

Approach someone genuinely, from a place of service with no pretense. They're smart people, they know they have influence for a reason. So don't act like that reason isn't there. Tell them thank you for something they helped you with via their work, or tell them you enjoy their work, and offer something you're NOT selling or promoting.

Example: "Dear Mr. Frogdiver, I enjoyed your article about feeding and caring for green tree frogs and was so sorry to read about your dear Froggy's anorexia. I was there myself, when mine wouldn't eat for five years. If you're still having trouble with Froggy, here's the number for my flycatcher. He works wonders." When you send the information, just put it out there and let it go. They may or may not respond, and that has to be OK with you. If they don't, it's just that you and they aren't the right fit. If you're genuine, eventually someone will.

If the connection is via Twitter, retweet or favorite something of theirs that you genuinely liked or found helpful, or @reply to something insightful they've said. it often takes a few different tweets over a period of time to get a response, and it usually happens when you're least expecting it.

But really, put yourself in their shoes and treat them as you'd want to be treated. Imagine how you'd feel if someone wanted to date or marry you only because of your car, or only because of your bank account, and that they couldn't care less about YOU as a person. That's how powerful people and celebrities are treated every day. So don't be the person who does that.

Good luck. If you have questions or would like further info, I'd be pleased to set up a call.

Answered 10 years ago

I coach a lot of CEO's, but they weren't CEO's when I started coaching them. As they got better at what they did, more opportunities opened up for them.

The same is true in your business network. The people you start getting to know now will become more influential over time which will open up more opportunities for you and them.

It sounds like you want to skip a step, in other words, by connecting with influential people you'll instantly gain a Trusted Advisor Community. It's just that it doesn't really work that way. You have to get to know people step by step. And the first step is to surround yourself with people you like and trust. Get to know them and help them and over time you will develop your own network, which is much more valuable (to you and them) than piggybacking on someone else's network.

In terms of how I connect with people, I'm always happy to talk to someone who wants to get to know me better. I'm leery if it seems that they just want access to my network or just want to sell me something.

My specific advice is to join groups on LinkedIn that have similar minded people to you, get involved in the conversation, and get to know them. Over time you'll build up a strong network which I think is what you're looking for anyway.

If you want to talk in more detail about techniques for meeting more people and expanding your referral network feel free to set up a call.


Answered 10 years ago

Lots of good answers here already. In brief, it's about relationship building, not tricks. Having said that, they are helpful tools on the way. A new awesome tool you should look at is Conspire. It's a bit like LinkedIn, but more intelligent when it comes to networking and relationship building, in my opinion. Here is another "tool" you should always carry with you. Never, never leave a networking meeting without asking for one additional relevant introduction.

Answered 9 years ago

Add them randomly on linkedin, start liking their post and build relationship

Answered 7 years ago

I remember of an incident that took place with one of my colleagues a few years back. Alex was doing great work and had strong credentials, so his resume was not the problem. He was targeting influential, high-level executives, but the response rate was poor. Senior executives are busy, see less value spending time with someone lower on the hierarchy, and are likely to miss or ignore requests through email or social media. Alex thought back to the university students who contacted him last year, and sheepishly admitted that he blew off most of them. Ask someone influential to put in a good word for you, introduce you, or help arrange a meeting with the person you want to meet. Alex’s team contracted a consultancy the year before, and he had impressed the consultancy’s partner during the engagement. The partner had a wide network of senior contacts at other companies, so Alex asked if the partner could introduce him to a vice president he wanted to meet. The partner was happy to do so and recommended him to two other executives. Alex boasted that he always helps people from his university, or who studied in the school’s economics department. Alex responded to an engineer who contacted him, mainly because of her focus on artificial intelligence. Play up unique knowledge you may have, framing how that might benefit the person, and highlight credentials, like affiliations with prestigious institutions, that give you credibility.” Alex asked an executive if they could meet so Alex “could get the executive’s C-suite perspective and advice on how I might use this skill to help retailers, as I take the next step in my career.
One student employed none of the approaches above, but Alex still responded. To combat our resistance to using flattery, especially the belief that it will not work across cultures, think about flattery as making the other person feel good about themselves. For example, the very act of seeking someone’s sage expertise and advice is a form of flattery. A German executive highlighted key points he liked from the speech of a vice president in another division. The “flattery” was sincere. He secured a coffee meeting and started a relationship that accelerated his career. Most people are too embarrassed to ask or feel that reaching out will not get a response. Use the approaches above to make a request more compelling, and make requests in person, which are even harder to turn down. Every few months Alex sharpens his approach, based on what is working. Follow Alex’s lead. You will land more meetings, which will lead to more conversations, which will build your network, and advance your career.
Besides if you do have any questions give me a call:

Answered 4 years ago

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