I recently spoke in front of a group of 14 business owners. Afterward, I overheard one say to another, “I respect Sally Hogshead. I'd really like to meet her.” I chimed in, “Why don't you?” He responded, “How would I do that?”
I thought for a moment on how I would advise him and remembered the story about Ben Franklin's unique ask (told below). This method works on LinkedIn or any platform on or offline. I was shocked how in the dark about LinkedIn -- and upgrading their network -- these accomplished business people were. LinkedIn is maybe the most direct route to connect with industry titans and leaders you couldn't reach on the phone or through any other means.
These leaders and ideal strategic alliance partners still pay attention to their LinkedIn inbox and invites. But even successful business people are unclear how best to connect. You've probably seen the advice to:
- Upgrade your profile with a compelling summary, use multimedia, and fill out all the fields relevant to your industry so your profile is a complete picture of your career
- Look at potential client or hiring managers’ profiles because then a good percentage of them will look at yours
- Publish updates and industry resources so your connections see you as a "go to" expert
You should do those things as part of your inbound strategy. You also deserve an outbound strategy where you connect directly with the influencers and strategic allies who can leap your business forward by multiples instead of just incremental.
A stupidly simple method to meet influencers
Warning -- everybody wants a piece of influencers. Many people ask them for favors without explaining the mutual benefit. Influencers have become numb and jaded to this. So stand out in a preferred way. A better way with influencers is to use the three-pronged method Dave Kerpen recommends.
1. Endorse the influencer for one or more skills
2. Like, comment and share one or more of the influencer’s articles
3. Write a LinkedIn recommendation for the influencer based on how that influencer’s work has helped you
After you've done those three things, look at the influencer’s connections. Discover who is the closest bonded to the influencer. Send a simple LinkedIn message asking that connection to introduce you, a one-sentence reason why it would be beneficial and useful to the influencer, the value to the connection of being a super connector, and you're committed to reciprocate because that's one of your core values.
A counterintuitive ask to get almost anyone to help you
Benjamin Franklin illustrated a counterintuitive concept of how asking others for help can bring them closer to you -- contrary to a prevalent belief that asking others for help annoys or breeds resentment in them. I urge you to test this out for yourself and will do so myself right now in order to “practice what I preach.”
Franklin asked somebody he’d been at odds with to borrow a rare book. This man opposed Franklin’s appointment to the prestigious clerk position in the General Assembly.
The letter he wrote to "ask" was done in a specific way. It wasn't one of those wishy-washy “I'll return it as soon as I can” requests. The man allowed Franklin to borrow the book. Franklin returned it about a week later with a heartfelt note of appreciation. The man had never talked to Franklin before but did the next time he saw him. They helped each other out on many occasions going forward and became friends until the man’s death.
Make a specific, unique ask. Make your promise as part of the ask. Follow through. An intentional, creative ask is welcomed in today’s over-stimulated society. I welcome you to make a unique ask of me via Twitter or LinkedIn. I see it as a fun game but with real stakes beneficial to your life.
You now have an Uber effective method Kerpen has used to connect with more than 150 official LinkedIn influencers. I've used this method to connect with four official LinkedIn influencers and other strategic influencers in my industry.
You should also test out the counterintuitive Franklin method to ask people for help. Make sure to include a compelling reason and be unique in your ask. Do this, and you'll be surprised how many people will beat a path to your door to help you.
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This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Minor edits have been done by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editors.