Whether you want to pitch an idea, score a high-profile interview, or pick someone’s brain for advice, meetings with successful, powerful people offer tons of benefits. Unfortunately, though, these people are usually the hardest to get a hold of.
“Time is the new money — no one can afford to give it away carelessly these days,” writes Dorie Clark, a marketing strategist who teaches at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, in a blog post for the Harvard Business Review. Even asking for a mere 10 minutes needs to be planned and calculated, she says.
In the post, Clark shares her tried-and-true strategies for landing meetings with important people. Here are her top three:
Give them a reason.
Everyone’s insanely busy, especially important, powerful people. While some may wish they could meet with everyone who contacts them, it’s just not possible, so you need to show why you’d be worth their time. “Make clear the value proposition of getting to know you,” Clark says. “Otherwise, it’s far too easy for them to underestimate you and assume you don’t have anything to offer.”
Whether you can offer “good press” or teach them how to optimise their business, you need to show them exactly why they can’t miss an opportunity to meet with you in your initial contact.
It’s not enough to simply pique someone’s interest — you need to pitch a meeting that’s easy to fit into their schedule. While it might not seem like much to ask for one lunch or an hour out of someone’s day, those seemingly small chunks of time can quickly add up, especially for professionals who receive 20 to 50 similar requests each week, Clark warns.
Instead of lunch, ask to grab coffee. Or, rather than asking to meet up in person, promise to fit everything into a 10-minute phone call. If they like you or your idea, they will be more likely to offer more of their time, Clark says.
Find a connection.
Once you’ve made contact with an important person, get on their level. “The challenge is to break through and ensure they view you as a colleague — someone ‘like them’ — rather than a stranger impinging on their time,” Clark says. Scour Facebook and LinkedIn for mutual friends and connections, anything to give you a starting point to build your relationship. Powerful people are much more likely to want to meet if they know someone who can vouch for you.
Click here to read the full HBR post.
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