When I first started off as an entrepreneur, I had no fear. I didn’t have much money to my name, and I didn’t have much to lose, which is why I was willing to do whatever it took to succeed.
One of the things I would constantly do is reach out to other successful entrepreneurs. As a kid, I thought that if I reached out to people who were worth hundreds of millions of dollars, I could learn from them and eventually make money like they did.
I quickly learned, however, that these successful people didn’t want to give me the time of day. Naturally, I felt they were douchebags because they ignored me.
Within a few years of my entrepreneurial journey, I learned how to grab the attention of these successful entrepreneurs, build relationships with them, get their help and even convince them to invest money in me.
In the end, it helped me grow my businesses and become financially successful. So, do you know how to deal with these douchebags and get their help? Before I dive into the strategies I used, there are a few things you need to know:
Successful people aren’t douchebags
Sure, a few of these well-off entrepreneurs you meet are douchebags, but the majority of them are actually nice and humble people. They rarely show off their wealth. You won’t see them bragging about themselves on the social web, and they truly enjoy helping other people.
They may come off as arrogant or unapproachable at first because they have their guards up. These people get hit up every day by people like you, asking for their help or asking for their money.
Just think about all the homeless people who have begged you for money. You probably got so used to it that you ignore each and every one of them now.
Successful people are busy
Most successful people got to where they are today because they worked and are still working hard, which means they don’t have many hours in the day to spare. When they do have spare time, they typically spend it with their families.
The reason most of them ignore inquires is because they don’t have much time to help others. Sure, they want to help you and everyone else out, but if they did that, they wouldn’t have much time left in the day.
When they brush you off, don’t take it personally. Time is their most valuable asset, and they have to be careful with how they spend it.
Now that you know that successful people aren’t douchebags and that they are simply busy, you are probably wondering how you can get their attention, right? Here’s how…
Don’t ask, give!
Before you start approaching successful people, do a bit of research on them. Try to figure out what they are up to and what they are working on.
Once you know that, you can focus on helping them out first. No one wants to feel used, so try to create a mutually beneficial relationship.
Find out how you can help them, and do it. Make sure you don’t ask them how you can help because they won’t know. You need to figure it out and do it without taking much, if any, of their time. If you are not sure how you can help them out, dig deeper because there is something you can offer them. You just have to think it through.
Once you figure it out, make sure you do it all for free. That’s right – don’t charge them a dime. Most people who hit them up want money from them, so that’s the last thing you want to ask for.
For example, when I started out as an Internet marketer, I hit up blogs like TechCrunch, Mashable, Business Insider, Gawker Media, and GigaOm and offered them help for free. I told them that their codes weren’t optimized for search engines and that I could help them increase their search traffic with a few quick tweaks for free.
I even went as far as making the tweaks for them. This way, it didn’t consume much of their time.
As I mentioned earlier, time is the most valuable asset successful people have, so you have to be careful about the time requirements. Ideally, you don’t want to use any of their time when you are helping them out.
But if you do have questions for them, make sure you keep your emails and phone calls short and to the point. Don’t waste their time with small talk. Just focus on helping them in the most efficient manner possible.
For instance, when I was helping TechCrunch, I spent most of my time working with Henry Work, who used to be the company’s developer. I made sure I didn’t bug Michael Arrington. All I cared about was that he knew I was helping them increase their traffic.
The more results you provide and the less of their time you take, the better off you are.
You’ll have to get creative coming up with ways to use as little of their time as possible while providing something valuable, but it is doable.
Once you provide results, provide more
The key to building relationships with successful entrepreneurs is to keep giving without asking for anything in return. Sure, eventually you may ask for something, which I will get into next, but at first, you need to keep giving.
Let’s say you helped these people out for free. Let’s say they saw some positive results from your actions. You are not done yet. You still want to keep helping them out for free.
By continually putting their interests ahead of your own over a course of three to six months, you’ll end up building trust and proving that you are not in it just for yourself.
I know what you may be thinking. Three to six months is a long time. And it really is, but you can’t expect someone who is successful to help you out without getting to know you first. Three to six months is just enough time for that person to get to know you.
A good example of this is my work with the blogs I mentioned above. Not only did I help them increase their traffic, but I also helped them fine-tune their publishing businesses.
These blogs wanted more traffic, so I did an analysis of their writers and the blog posts they’ve published. I then took that data and recommended which writers they should use more often and which topics they should blog about in order to maximize their traffic.
Make only one ask
Once you helped them out, you can make an ask. The ask you are making can’t be too big. You can’t say “give me a million bucks” because that just won’t work.
The ask needs to be something that is small for the person you are asking, but valuable to you. A good example of this may be an introduction to a business that you want to work with.
For example, once I helped Michael Arrington, I asked him for introductions to a few venture capitalists. He emailed a few of them and told them about the results I provided. He also recommended that their portfolio companies hire me. This helped me boost my income.
If the people you asked for a favor ended up ignoring your request, don’t worry. You can always ask them again at a future date. In the meantime, continue to help them out for free.
Successful people typically aren’t douchebags. They are simply busy people who constantly get bombarded by others, requesting their help and money.
Instead of feeling hurt when you get ignored, learn how to follow the steps above and build meaningful relationships with these successful people. Ideally, you would want to forge friendships with these people – not because you want something from them, but because you genuinely want to be their friend.