As you’ve undoubtedly discovered during your time as a professional, it’s not just about what you know — it’s also about who you know. There are people out there that can make your dreams come true by exposing you to the world in ways you never imagined or give you access to markets you didn’t think you could reach.
The only problem: you need to meet these magical people first!
That, of course, is the conundrum. Where are these people, and how do you go about talking to them? Here are a few tips to contacting the people you want to talk to the most.
LinkedIn has swiftly become THE website for professionals to interact with like-minded people. If you want to find someone who works in the same field as you or is interested in whatever you need – marketing, public relations, etc. – then LinkedIn is a great place to start.
If the person or type of person you seek is in the business world they most likely are already on LinkedIn. The trick is to find them. If you have a specific person, try typing their name into the search box. Should they pop up, send them an invite to connect. Make sure you put a nice message in the invite, though, as it’s not a guarantee they’ll connect with you, especially if you lead with the default “I’d like to connect with you on LinkedIn.”
If you’re looking more “generally” for someone to assist you with a business matter, one great idea is to start expanding your network. Find literally everyone you know on LinkedIn and connect with them. This gives LinkedIn a better idea of your circle of friends and who you know. You can then peruse your friends’ lists and see who they know – you may be surprised!
Another backdoor way to connect with people on LinkedIn is through groups. If you’re looking for PR work in Atlanta, for example, find all PR related groups in the area and join. Suddenly some people who may not have cropped up in your initial searches on LinkedIn will be revealed to you because you share a common group.
You can also establish your professional credibility on Linkedin by sharing relevant content to your groups or to your network via your news feed. Individuals who establish a serious content presence are more trustworthy than those who don’t.
Where do like-minded people congregate? They say you can throw a stone in a Starbucks and hit at least a dozen writers, so where can you throw a (proverbial) stone and hit someone else you need?
No matter the industry, there’s bound to be a conference for it somewhere. People enjoy talking about their interest and what they do and conferences allow them to meet others like them and expand their connections.
The thing is, you may not want to attend a conference for public relations if you have no interest in well, relating to the public. The beauty is you can actually use the conference without going to it. Most of these events have websites or, better yet, Facebook pages where people sign up to them. Here you can find people’s names and look them up to see if they can help you. Then connect with them on LinkedIn!
3. Current Contacts and Community
The world gets smaller and smaller. Go check out your Facebook friends for proof: click on a few and look at your friends in common. How many surprises are in there? Quite a few if you’re like most people – inexplicably, the college friend from Boston somehow knows your cousin who (you thought) always lived in San Francisco.
So when trying to find someone to help you expand your business, start with the people you already know! Simply inquiring “does anyone know so and so?” or “do any of you know a PR pro in the city?” This simple little act could reveal massive results.
Because that’s what this digital age is all about: who you know. You don’t realize how many people you really do know until someone asks. Suddenly, your cousin in San Fran realizes they have a friend of a friend who’s been in the PR business for years. And your search is over!