Nearly every entrepreneur in the world is familiar with The Oprah Effect which essentially describes the power of Oprah’s endorsement particularly when it comes to consumer goods and services. Imagine what a simple mention of your brand by Oprah would do for your business? But it’s not just Oprah. In today’s connected world essentially any influencer with a large committed following or tribe has the power to transform an entrepreneur into an idol overnight. Sure, we’ve all heard the saying “Your network is your net worth” but as an aspiring entrepreneur just starting out your business, how do you go from being a nobody to rubbing shoulders with the greats?
I turn to Selena Soo, a business and publicity strategist, for some expert advice on how to network the right way. Soo has helped her clients land multiple six-figure book deals, and get featured in big name articles and magazines such as O, The Oprah Magazine. Soo actually grew up in Hong Kong so she's very familiar with the ecosystem here. Her main focus is helping entrepreneurs develop strategic relationships that will take their business to the next level.
Be clear on who you want to connect with
The first thing you need to do is take a step back and think about about exactly who you want to network with and how they will directly enhance your business. Networking for the sake of networking is a waste of time. I can’t tell you the number of meaningless meetings that I took in my early years because I had the mentally that I just needed to be out there. All that got me was a stack of useless business cards and a whole lot of wasted time. Rather than do that, take a more intentional approach with who you target.
“I always encourage people to put together an influencer list of the people they want to connect with, but on their influencer list it's not only the most famous out of reach people that may take years to develop a relationship with. It's also people in your immediate circle, also people that are super connectors. Maybe they're not household name famous, but behind the scenes these are the people who are making it happen," says Soo
And while I’m an advocate of shooting for the stars myself, trying to go right in and connect with Tim Ferriss or Oprah Winfrey will take time, if it ever happens at all. Be realistic with who you connect with as well. There might be people within your closest circle of friends that can help you if you just formed a deeper relationship with them. Just remember to always keep in mind your end goal and use that filter to help you manage your time.
Give and you might receive
The second step is to add value. We’ve talked about how entrepreneurship is about serving others first. But let’s face it, all the important people that you want to connect with already know enough people. They don’t need another friend to be very honest. So what can you possibly offer them that they don’t already have? One of the surefire ways to perk up the ears of an influencer you are trying to connect with is good old fashioned flattery. Human beings love it. Whether it is praising them on social media or writing an epic article about them that you pitch to a major publication, all influencers no matter how big or small appreciate the affirmation. If you don’t have a social media following, a high traffic blog or any connections at media outlets, Soo has a very simple, yet powerful way for you to add value and that’s by expressing appreciation.
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