How to Talk to Powerful People: 4 Tips for Smart Networking

Photo via Thomas Leuthard on Flickr.
Photo via Thomas Leuthard on Flickr.

In a world where your net worth is your network, it’s essential to have a stable of meaningful connections to draw on.  But connections to powerful people don’t happen on their own — they require strategic action. Author and former presidential campaign spokeswoman Dorie Clark has rubbed elbows with plenty of influencers, and has four simple and effective techniques you can use grow your professional network.

1. Interview them. Interviews are a substantive alternative to the ubiquitous coffee date. Often the people you want to connect with have limited time for coffee with the people they do know, much less with the people they don’t. Asking for an interview lends structure to a conversation which you can easily parlay into a media asset that will benefit more people. Interviews can be published as Q&A blog posts, recorded for podcasts or posted as YouTube videos.

2. Write about them. Featuring a professional you admire in a blog post or online article is a great professional courtesy. Writing shows a willingness to make an investment of your time and shows off your intellectual acumen. You can help your target notice that you’ve written about them by linking to their website in your article and tagging them in a social post when you notify your audience about the post.

3. Do them a favor. Twitter is a working professional’s daytime cocktail party. Keep an eye on your target’s tweets and step in where you can. If they mention they are headed to a new city and looking for recommendations, chime in with helpful suggestions. If they reveal they are looking for a new service provider or software solution and you have expertise, don’t hesitate to point them in the right direction. Everyone wants to know someone who is willing to be helpful and genuine.

4. Make yourself interesting. It is very easy to fall into the trap of introducing yourself as a, “big fan,” but its a major conversation stopper. When you have the opportunity to introduce yourself to a person you admire, be thoughtful about how you can open a line of communication. Prepare to talk about your accomplishments and interests instead of focusing solely on theirs. It will give them a reason to keep talking.

To hear more specific examples of how Dorie Clark used these tips to grow her professional network check out the video below. And be sure to check out Personal Branding for Professional Creatives for more helpful tips.

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Rachel is the content marketing lead for the CreativeLive Craft Channel. Her side hustle is floral design and her day job is awesome. @ms_gregarious.