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20 January 2009

How To Make Deals With Bigshots in Less Than 10 Minutes

This is a guest post from Laura Roeder, creator of The Dash.

As I’m writing this, I just got off the phone with the famous Gary V. We spoke for less than ten minutes and now a fun collaborative venture is underway. You should know that before today I had never spoken with or met Gary. In fact, before we scheduled this call he had no idea who I was!

No One Is Out Of Your League

I used to think that people like Gary were “out of my league”. If you feel the same way, you need to drop that ridiculous thought like a hot potato! Once I changed my view I started befriending some of the brilliant entrepreneurs that I used to admire from afar. No one is too important for you to contact. It’s always worth a shot, and if you follow the communication plan that I’ve outlined below your chances of success will be much higher.

Your Seven Step Communication Plan

Here is how to achieve the results you want in contacting important people, or proposing that people help you. Just use this step-by-step guide to model your call or email.

1. Keep the chit-chat to a minimum. Follow their lead if they want to make small talk later, but in the beginning you should get to the point quickly. If this feels awkward to you, start the call by saying “Alright, let’s get right to it!”

2. Do not assume that they know who you are or have read materials you’ve sent them. I started the conversation by asking Gary if he would like a brief overview of the project I was proposing. (I like to ask this first so that I don’t launch into a 10-minute spiel of information that they already know.) Do not take it personally if people have no clue who you are, they are taking the time to speak with you because they want to know who you are!

3. Tell them exactly what you’d like them to do; NEVER contact someone and say “Hey I thought we could do a joint venture, any ideas?” NO NO NO! Don’t make them work for you, always come from the position that you are working for them. The benefit is two-fold. One, they will be happy that you came to the table with something. Two, it is much easier to agree to an idea (especially an awesome one) than to think of an idea on your own. Make it easy for them to say yes! Which leads to my next point . . .

4. Give them an original, creative idea! How often do you think Gary is contacted with “Hey, why don’t you do a show on merlot!” That is BORING and he’s done it before. Don’t waste people’s time. Come to the table with something exciting, and do your research.

5. Ask if there’s anything else they would like to discuss. You are leading the conversation, not dominating it. Make sure you give them a chance to ask clarifying questions or throw in their own ideas.

6. GIVE NEXT STEPS! So many people overlook this and finish a call with “Um, then I guess we’ll get back in touch in a few months?” I ended my call with Gary by confirming exactly what both of our next steps would be. You need to take ownership of putting your plan into action.

7. Follow up with a thank you and a summary of your correspondence. Then follow up regularly via email, weekly or monthly as appropriate to the timeline you discussed. Following up is not bothersome, it is essential.

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