Follow these 5 steps to connect with any keynote speaker superstar
Let’s say you are eyeballing a particular high-profile executive. Whatever you would like him to invest in your startup, become your client, business partner or if you just want to work for him. Point of the matter is, you are probably nowhere near him, and you don’t have any mutual acquaintances that can provide a quality introduction. It doesn’t matter if it’s a Richard Branson, Tony Robbins or Guy Kawasaki. At one point that person will be a speaker at a conference, and there’s your chance to start a snowball effect on him. He won’t even know what hit him, and I’ll introduce those simple steps to you.
Step 1. Q&A time
Find a conference where the high-profile executive will speak. Preferably there’s a free entrance, or you can get in as press, or if you know one of the organizers. Just be creative. I remember how once I got a free pass to a conference where I met the founder of WordPress! Anyway, prepare a question you will ask that individual during the Q&A part. You can do that before the conference, but then you have to find out what the person will speak about (the title of his presentation). Contact the organizers if you have to. Otherwise, prepare 3 questions based on the history of this individual or just listen carefully during the keynote, and prepare 3 questions. They don’t have to be great, or provocative, but I am also not saying that you ask the guy “How he is doing”. Number one thing to do is to ask the question. So, go to that conference, raise your arm during the Q&A part, introduce yourself and ask your question. If you have to stand up right away as soon as the organizer or the speaker asks if there are any questions do that! This is your only chance, and if you fail here, it gets harder later. While the speaker is replying to your question, take notes or record the speaker’s response.
Asking a question so publicly is also a great trick in beating the fear of public speaking, something I wrote about in one of the earlier posts – “3 Easy Tricks how to Beat Fear of Public Speaking“. It’s also great that your peers see you talk with such a high-profile individual publicly. It definitely helps your personal brand, your self-esteem, and it might even help with the opposite sex. One thing is for sure, during that brief moment of asking the question, you will stand out from the crowd, and that’s what it’s all about. If you have to, read the question of the paper (to ignore the crowd). Whatever you do, have in mind that even if you fail miserably the first 3 times, I am almost 100% sure, that your next 100 attempts will be great. What I am saying is, don’t worry about your first failed attempts, think about the next 100 that will be great. Exchanging 3 lousy “borrowing the spotlights” as I call them, for 100 good ones, is a good bargain, and I would take it if I were you.
Step 2. Photoshoot
After you ask the question and that entire part is over, locate the individual and follow up on his answer or your question. When you are talking with this high-profile individual, politely ask if someone may take a photo of you two for your blog post. Naturally, the superstars have no objection to that, and they are used to it. It’s a nice compliment for them, and a great tool for you. In the end of your brief conversation (less than 5 minutes), excuse yourself, and thank the superstar for their valuable time. Before you leave ask if you might get their business card so that you may further follow up on the topic you were just talking about. While you are saying that, offer your business card also. It’s important that you start leaving first because then you have the upper hand, and have the other side wanting to hear more. Even if it’s Mark Cuban on the other side. “The sale” will happen later.
If the other person says they don’t have any business cards, ask for an email or a phone number or anything really. If they don’t give you anything (which will happen only if you totally messed up the first step, and the first part of the second step) you will have two options:
1. Completely cross off this superstar in your plans (not exactly what I would recommend)
2. Try finding the address or contact info that has access to his secretary. Use Google, Whois, forums and ask your connections who has the most connections (they will probably know someone that can help you out)
Step 3. Interact on social media
Assuming you managed to get their business card, let’s proceed with step three. When you are back at the office the next day, add that individual on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Whatever feels appropriate. If you have to unfollow / follow on Twitter, do it. If it’s a Facebook page, you don’t have to like it, because it doesn’t really matter, unless you know for sure that he is updating it himself. Then it’s a good idea to interact on that page. The point is that the other side needs to interact with you, or at least see that you are trying to interact with them, so a friend request on Facebook and/or LinkedIn connection is best because of personal interaction.
Step 4. Blog + share
About a week or 2 weeks after step three, write a blog post about that entire experience (going to a conference, asking the question, photo with the keynote speaker). Share this blog post on social media and tag that individual. You can also share the post on websites like Hacker News, Digg, Reddit, Stumble upon so that you get more hits.
Step 5. Interview
Contact the individual (using the details on the business card) even a phone call if you have to, and share the fact you blogged about the topic you talked about that day. Ask the individual if he might be interested in doing a short interview about a particular topic close to him. Have the questions ready just in case the person accepts to do the interview right away. By now this high-profile superstar will have remembered your name, and it’s a good foundation to start a sales process or whatever it is you feel would be best suited.
So there you go, a proven recipe that will get you under the skin of any high-profile rock star. The key is not to give up until you have your dream investor, partner, client, boss. Choose wisely because if it’s not worth fighting for, you will give up before you even start.
If you liked this blog post, perhaps you would like to consider buying my ebook “26 Fundraising Questions for Startups”