Question: What's one tip you have for getting a meeting with a high-value individual who might be able to help your startup grow?
Get a Warm Intro
"Find somebody in your network who has a first- or second-degree connection to the person you wish to connect with. A warm intro is exponentially better than cold calling or emailing somebody important. Spend the time to dig through your network and find that warm intro."
Position Yourself as an Expert
"High-value individuals want to know you're the real deal before meeting with you. If you consistently contribute to publications in your industry and establish yourself as a thought leader, your chances of landing that meeting, or even getting those people to approach you, are a lot higher. "
Find a Way to Stand Out
"Make yourself stand out in one way or another. How are you different than the other hundreds of people who want to meet this high-value individual? Separate yourself from the rest and find some way to grab his or her attention. And when you get it, be genuine and humble and, most of all, listen more than you speak. Be thankful for the time they give you -- time is very valuable."
Be Politely Persistent
"There have been a few times that I shied away from writing a second email or picking up the phone, only to later meet the person I was seeking and realize he or she just needed a reminder. Important people are busy, so don't be afraid to reach out multiple times, especially if there's something you can share in your follow-up that makes you memorable."
Let Your Name Be Known
"Start off by finding this person on every social network you use. Start building a relationship with him online. Make sure he knows your name. Tweet him, message him on Facebook, etc., and eventually get an intro from the right person, asking to meet him."
Use LinkedIn Classmates
"One of the best-kept secrets of LinkedIn is the Classmates tool (http://linkedin.com/classmates). You can access your college alumni network and tap into those with whom you share a common bond. Sort, filter and search your way through the database to find the professionals who can best help your startup. Invite them to coffee or lunch to learn more about their careers and ask for advice."
Take the Value-Add Approach
"Always frame a potential meeting with a high-value individual with the question: "How can I bring value and make this meeting worthwhile for him?" Once you have your value-add approach, think very carefully about the best way to obtain a meeting. A strong and warm introduction from someone he knows and trusts will improve your chances of landing the meeting and ensure a great start."
"High-value individuals can smell when you are trying to fake it, so be real and authentic to get that meeting. Yes, you should show them that what you are working on has huge potential, but the best thing to do is be humble and straightforward. Let this person know that you value her advice, and remember that she was once in your shoes. People appreciate it when you're candid."