Let’s say you are dying to get a meeting with someone but can’t get past first base. Here are 3 steps you can take that will earn you a homerun (almost) every time.
Step 1 – Credibility
Don’t approach anyone worth approaching if you don’t have credibility. If you do they won’t give you the time of day.
Need proof? Why do you constantly delete emails from all those nice people from Zimbabwe who promise to deposit $10 zillion dollars in your bank account? Because they lack credibility.
To create that authority you must do two things:
1. Know the topic that most interests the other party inside and out.
2. Get endorsed by someone the other person respects.
It’s obvious that you have to know your stuff if you want to get in the sandbox with the big kids. But you can accomplish this easily. Just hit the books and do some research.
Getting introduced by a mutual friend or snagging a high quality endorsement is a little tricky – but it’s not impossible.
My experience is that if you use social media wisely and have patience you’ll be amazed at the results. Now, if you do this and still come up empty handed, do not despair. Step 5 will solve that problem.
Step 2 – The Approach
Once you have some “cred” it’s time to make your move.
Of course everyone has their own style but I prefer to go low-key. I’m not a hard-sale kind of Pilgrim.
When I contact someone who doesn’t know me, I start off by dropping the name of the person who suggested that I touch base and why. Then I tell them the truth:
“I really have no idea if I can be of any help to you but Freddy Friend thought it might be good for both of us to meet so I thought I would reach out.”
Notice, I didn’t promise anything. But in that short sentence, I planted a few very important seeds:
I told the person again that our mutual friend thought it would be smart to meet.
I gave the person an easy out if he determines that it really isn’t a fit.
I demonstrated humility and honesty.
3. Ask Questions
Once you’ve opened a dialogue with someone, ask for permission to ask questions. Don’t bore them by talking about how great you or your service is. Take a genuine interest in them and demonstrate that by asking good questions. Find out what this other person’s needs are and how you might be of service before you ask for their time. Get a very clear picture of what they need and present a solution.
4. The “Close”
I like to close conversations like these just like I began them. “I have no idea if we are really a good fit, but judging by what Freddy thought and what you told me about yourself, I think it makes sense to get together. What do you think?”
If something we discussed resonated with this person, we’ll meet. If I didn’t say anything that rings this person’s bell, they will pass. Either way, it’s a win-win. If we meet, it’s great. If there is no reason to meet, we won’t waste each other’s time.
Step 5 – The Surrender
I said in step 2 that you need expertise and endorsements to build credibility. And of the two, endorsements are far more important than knowledge these days.
But what do you do when you don’t have those oh-so-valuable connections?
You give up.
That’s right. If you can’t find any mutual connection to the person you want to meet your time is better spent elsewhere. Cold calling is for the birds. Strictly for the birds. I haven’t made a cold call in 28 years and so far business is pretty good cousin.
This is not to say that you should give up trying to grow your business. Instead, go back to your network using social media. Look for high-level connections that are attainable and put in the time to build relationships.
You can use this approach to meet with people for win-win connections. Understand “what’s in it for them” and focus on that rather than on yourself.
This is more or less the approach I have used over the last 28 years to build my business. How do you get in front of new people to grow your business? What works best for you?