Successful entrepreneurs are busy. Building a business requires more of you than it feels like you have to give at times. The entrepreneurs you look up to are putting in the work, and at a higher level. That means more responsibility.
They get alerts and messages like most of us would experience during a day. Family and friends checking in. Business associates sharing the latest developments. Potential new customers reaching out to buy one of their premium offerings. There are, however, a few messages they receive that they’re most likely to ignore.
These messages start off innocently, but a successful entrepreneur has experienced this hundreds of times. They know where the conversation is going. Someone is going to ask for the knowledge and strategies their customers pay for.
Just because it's tempting and easy to message, tweet or email an entrepreneurial hero doesn’t mean they are waiting to hear from you. I understand why you want to connect with someone who inspires you, so I have some tips for networking in a way that helps you build mutually beneficial entrepreneurial relationships.
1. Make a strong first impression.
Just because entrepreneurs are easily accessible these days doesn’t mean they will be receptive to you. The internet and social media make this world smaller but business etiquette and principles still apply. You make your best first impression when you lead from a place of value, not by asking first for something you want. Your access to someone does not mean they’ll share what their customers pay for. The way successful entrepreneurs give out free strategy is deliberate.
They publish free blog posts, articles, podcasts, videos, in-person training, webinars and lots of other ways. Consume their free content and take action on it. A better first approach is when you can message them talking about the amazing results you got just by implementing their free content. Entrepreneurs want to make an impact. They will respond favorably when they see that they’ve made that impact. They will be more willing to help you with the next steps. Successful entrepreneurs respect action.
Related: How to Master the Art of the First Impression
2. You have enough information, so do the work.
If you have spent time studying what you want to accomplish in your business, you probably know more than you realize. Information overload is a very real problem for entrepreneurs. The allure of all the opportunities for training has many entrepreneurs chasing their tail.
Stop signing up for every free training offer and consuming as much free content as possible. Before you know it, you’ll have no clue where to even start if you take this path. Stop! Take inventory of what you know. Get honest about what you want to accomplish. Create a plan. Take massive action. There is no magical “one thing” a successful entrepreneur did to become successful.
3. A professional deserves to be compensated for their time and knowledge.
Entrepreneurs start a business for a reason. They want to create freedom and financial security. They’ll never achieve those goals if they spend their time responding to every message and give away their value for free. Successful entrepreneurs are professionals, and pros get paid what they deserve. Respect an entrepreneur’s boundaries. If they open the door for more communication, then follow through. If they have made it clear they aren’t interested, respect that and move on to doing the next steps in your plan.
4. Form mutually beneficial business relationships.
Relationships will make or break your business. Whom you associate with can push you to be better or suck you down to a lower level. Successful entrepreneurs form business relationships that are mutually beneficial. Both parties have to understand what each brings to the table and how that helps everyone involved. When you approach a new entrepreneur, you should have a clear understanding of the dynamics.
You should know what they do and be clear about what you do. You should have an idea about how you could possibly work together in a way that adds value to both of you. A little research goes a long way. When you’ve done some research, you can formulate a better approach and make a first impression that gets you a second conversation. If you aren’t there yet with how you can add mutual value, don’t make the approach. Build up yourself and come back when it makes more sense.
Don’t let the allure of possibly connecting with a successful entrepreneur ruin your chances before you even get started. You can connect with your heroes, but do it in a smarter way. Lead with value and watch doors open to you!