I remain a student of this industry even after more than 30 years in its service. One thing I’ve learned through my experiential studies is that the most successful entrepreneurs find a way to engage with those that can influence the outcome or change the trajectory of their business.
Even before this global pandemic and the seismic shift in the way work works, it was getting harder and harder to connect and engage with the people who can help make the important stuff happen.
Under the best circumstances, it’s a challenge to get facetime with investors, buyers, mentors, advisors, even your peers. The absence of the physical events during the past 18 months has only added to that challenge.
You guessed it, here comes the tough love. Successful entrepreneurs don’t let the obstacle of reality stand in their way. They figure out how to go around, climb over, tunnel under anything in their way. They do what is necessary.
The world is littered with artificial barriers. Those barriers come in the form of gatekeepers and business protocols. People hide behind the electronic fence of email. Of late, you can’t even hold out hope for that lucky in-person intercept.
As I wrote recently, this is when pervasive innovation is called for, when you must find another way to capture the attention of those who can help. Too often, we send an email, and then we sit back and hope for a reply. When one doesn’t come, we torture ourselves about when we should send a follow-up. We don’t want to seem pushy or aggressive. We create this false narrative that often prevents us from taking action.
How can you sneak in and connect with those who can change the outcome of your business? Here are a few suggestions. Start with a list of all those you’d like to engage. Remember that intention plus action equals reality.
Once you have that list, leverage LinkedIn, pull up their profiles, and see if you share any mutual connections. If so, reach out to those folks and ask them if they’d be willing to make a warm introduction. Always include a “forwardable” short blurb about yourself or your brand. That makes it much easier for the person to make the connection.
If you don’t have any mutual connections, use Google. Try to get an address and send a handwritten note. If you do send an email, don’t fall prey to the internal narrative. Send a short follow-up every 48-hours or so until you either get a response or a restraining order.
Once you make the connection, be prepared with a very clear and compelling ask. Don’t waste the opportunity. Also, make sure you offer to help them, even if that feels oddly trivial compared to what they can do for you.
Work that list daily. Don’t just leave it for when things get tough, or the issue has percolated to the surface. Remember what I wrote at the beginning. My experiential research has confirmed that the entrepreneurs who engage with those who can influence the outcome or change the trajectory of their business outperform those entrepreneurs who don’t. So, figure out how to sneak in and get them to engage with you.
Elliot Begoun is the Principal of The Intertwine Group, a practice focused on helping emerging food and beverage brands grow.
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