Opportunities beget opportunities.
You're featured on this blog and now they want you on that one. You're interviewed on this podcast and suddenly 3 more popular shows want to talk with you. You befriend a top name in your field and now other industry leaders return your emails and phone calls.
Entrepreneurs are told to leverage their opportunities, make connections, network, hustle and put themselves out there. That advice is great, but it doesn't explain how to get the FIRST door open. And, right now, that's the only door that matters, right?
Without the first door opening, no other ones will.
I've used this particular door-opening technique hundreds of times, and the results speak for themselves.
I landed a one-on-one interview with social media tycoon and bestselling author, Gary Vaynerchuk, written guest posts for blogs with millions of fans, booked an upcoming interview on the top podcast, Entrepreneur On Fire, connected with international speakers and TEDx presenters, collaborated with top players in my industry, had business referred to me and amazing opportunities handed to me.
Even better, this technique is very simple and can be used via email.
I call it the Name Float.
Basically, you float the name of a shared connection by an influencer and see if it sinks or swims.
Let me explain.
With this technique, you use a 1st degree connection to approach a 2nd degree.
The Name Float serves as a common thread and offers a sense of familiarity. Instead of a stranger arriving in the influencer's inbox, it's a "friend of a friend" or, in most cases where I've used this technique, "an acquaintance of an acquaintance."
The real beauty of the Name Float is that you do not even have to be friends with the mutual connection in order to float their name by the change-maker you're trying to reach. It's simply about building rapport and familiarity.
For example, when emailing bestselling author, Jane Doe, whose book you read and enjoyed after seeing a video interview with her on top blogger Joe Schmo's site (you DO NOT know Joe personally), you can honestly say:
I read your book after hearing about it from Joe Schmo. I love what that guy's up to, so I knew I had to check it out, and I'm so glad I did.
Instant rapport built. Your Name Float serves as the key in the door, and now that door is starting to open.
Using the Name Float sets you up as an equal, a peer - not a fan - which means it's much more likely that you'll be taken seriously and get a response.
Now, I know what you're thinking.
What if Jane Doe asks me how I know Joe Schmo?
First off, congratulations! You heard back from Jane Doe, the very person you were trying to reach. That means success in my book.
Secondly, the Name Float is not intended to be dishonest or misleading. Be transparent in your response.
"I don't know Joe personally, but have been reading his blog for years." Enough said. No big explanation or apology needed. Simply move on in your correspondence to the reason you contacted the influencer in the first place.
Using the Name Float, you'll soon realize that in most cases you're only one or two degrees away from reaching the big players. Having a shared connection can be the very confidence booster you need to send the email, reach out via social media or pick up the phone.
A note of caution, when you use the Name Float, do not follow it up with typical fan mail content.
Instead, write to them as you would to someone you're already friendly with. Keep it short and to-the-point and always lead with your Name Float, no matter how weak a connection it might seem.
Believe me, a weak connection like "my friend's sister-in-law, [Name Float], spoke at that event too and said she really enjoyed the talk you gave on [Topic]" can be all it takes to make you seem familiar and relatable enough to email back.
As Ben Armet, author of Dream Year, puts it, "It's not who you know. It's who they know."
Don't be afraid to share the thinnest of Name Floats with a person you're trying to get a response from. A weak Name Float is better than none at all and will set you apart from the hundreds of other emails that arrive in that top influencer's inbox every day, like it did for me with bestselling author, Steven Pressfield, which resulted in a string of email conversations and a box of 2 dozen autographed books arriving on my doorstep!
Ok, time for a little reality check. The Name Float won't work 100% of the time, but I can guarantee that if you NEVER reach out to the big players you're hoping to connect with you'll NEVER receive a response.
The Name Float, and realizing you have a shared connection with that person, can be the little confidence booster and common thread you need to get your foot in the door. And, once your foot is in the door, it's bound to swing wide open.
Author Bio: Cailen Ascher is a Clarity Coach for women entrepreneurs who are ready to realize, own and live their fullest potential. She's been spotlighted Entrepreneur on Fire, Gary Vaynerchuk's Q&A and was the 2014 Gold Stevie Award winner for Young Female Entrepreneur. Her coaching and teachings have helped 1000s create purpose-full businesses. For weekly lessons visit CailenAscher.com.