How to Get Busy Influencers to Share Your Stuff

26 Comments

One of the questions I’m constantly asked is, “How do I get influencers to help me?”

This blog post will outline approaches that work with true “influencers”–people who can single-handedly make or break a product launch.  I’ve been fortunate to interact with hundreds of such people since 2007. (If you’re more interested in pitching big media, here’s a template for how I do it.)

Specifically, I share an e-mail below that gets nearly every “influencer” element right.
But before we get to that, here are some ground rules for interacting with influencers or power brokers:

  1. If you’re asking them to share something, offer GOOD CONTENT on a website and not merely a sales page or pitch.  Responsible guardians of large audiences like good editorial.  The reputational risk of sharing great content is close to zero. Conversely, the risk-benefit ratio of sharing a sales page is practically all downside. Make the calculus easy or you’re just pissing in the wind.
  2. Do not e-mail or contact them unless A) they’ve given you their contact info directly, or B) you can get a warm introduction from a good friend of theirs (tip: ask the “friend” when they last had dinner or drinks together).  My preferred approach is in-person meetings in social settings.  Here’s the playbook I used to make SXSW in 2007 the tipping point for the launch of The 4-Hour Workweek. Cold e-mails–which most effective people ignore–are a waste of everyone’s time.  Put in the ground work and play the long game.  Think sniper rifle and not shotgun.  If you only have one chance to make a first impression, don’t screw this up.  “Sorry, let me try again…” almost never works.  Review this before drafting pitches.
  3. Before you reach out, ask yourself “If this person agrees, are they setting a dangerous precedent for themselves?” If so, they won’t agree, so don’t waste your breath.  For instance, why can’t I retweet fans’ Kickstarter campaigns?  Because if I publicly help even one stranger, I will be deluged by thousands of “Pls rt my Kickstarter campaign!” requests and my Twitter feed becomes unusable.  For the same reason, I can’t wish people I don’t know a happy birthday; if I open that door, I will get thousands of never-ending b-day requests.
  4. Give them a graceful exit.  This means never using BS like “I look forward to your favorable reply!” That stuff is terrible.  Be different and do the opposite. Close your e-mail or pitch with “Of course, no worries if you’re too busy to reply.  I know how busy you are.  Warmest wishes to you and yours…”  In my experience, giving people an easy “out” dramatically increases response rate.
  5. Don’t “keep in touch.” It drives busy people crazy.  Treat e-mailing them as you would knocking on their door and interrupting dinner. Treat it that seriously and use it that sparingly.

All that said and as promised, please find below an e-mail from Andrew Zimmern (@andrewzimmern), which I received not long ago.

You’ll see how he gets many subtle elements right.  Personally, I would have modified the subject line and closing line, but the length and don’t-make-me-think assets are otherwise outstanding.

###

Subject line: Little Help From My Friends

[TIM:  The single biggest weakness in this email is the subject line, IMHO, though perhaps they tested it. I would have seen it sooner had it been “Quick question from Andrew Zimmern” or something personalized along those lines.]

Dear Friends:

I hope this email finds you well! My team and I recently relaunched our online store: Shop Andrew Zimmern and I am thrilled to share it with you. It’s a mixture of curated items that I have found on my travels and use in everyday life, along with other branded items from the AZ collection. The assortment of products is ever changing and new items will be added throughout the year. Please a take a minute to check it out: http://shop.andrewzimmern.com.

Don’t be surprised when you stumble upon something you love!

This is where I need your help. It would mean the world to me if you would take a minute and share our shop with your audiences. As we try and build a bigger customer base from the ground up, we could use your support. We provided a few tools to make it easy. Check them out below. If you have any questions, please contact Kelly (fakeemailfromtim@avoidingspam.com) or myself! Thank you again for everything.

Sample tweets:

Sample Facebook post:
  • In search of stocking stuffers for your food geeked friends & family? My pal Chef Andrew Zimmern, host of Bizarre Foods, has relaunched his online shop, featuring unique travel gear and food finds curated from around the globe. Check it out: http://shop.andewzimmern.com
Shop Andrew Zimmern – editorial content for sharing:

Kindly,

xx

Andrew Zimmern

###

Afterword from Tim

As one last philosophical morsel, here is the quote that Andrew has at the bottom of his personal e-mail signature:

“If there’s one thing that frustrates me more than anything about the notion of being right, it’s that being right too often gets in the way of being generous. Because being right is too often used as a way to protect us from doing the thing that will actually most serve us. And if I can leave you with one thought, it’s that being right is completely fucking irrelevant.” – Danny Meyer

For those eager beavers out there, here are 5 more tips for e-mailing busy people, and here is my conversation with Andrew Zimmern on his success habits and routines.

Posted on: March 22, 2016.

Please check out Tribe of Mentors, my newest book, which shares short, tactical life advice from 100+ world-class performers. Many of the world's most famous entrepreneurs, athletes, investors, poker players, and artists are part of the book. The tips and strategies in Tribe of Mentors have already changed my life, and I hope the same for you. Click here for a sample chapter and full details. Roughly 90% of the guests have never appeared on my podcast.

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26 comments on “How to Get Busy Influencers to Share Your Stuff

  1. Great article! It’s almost hard to keep up with the amount of good content that you write Tim. I shall endeavour to learn from these tips and use them next time I contact a busy person.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post. As a blogger, I appreciate when people take the time to review at least some of my historical content to assess the likelihood of my interest in what they’re offering. Nothing makes turns me off more than being contacted by a brand to share an infographic or write a blog post on something I never cover (i.e. trashy Halloween costumes or gimmicky supplements…). Noooo thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hey Tim, great article. This is not a comment related to the article, but your first sentence “One of the questions I’m constantly asked is” made me thinking:

    I think it would be really really awesome, if you would do a Ask-Tim-Ferriss-Show e.g. on YouTube. There are so many questions that I would love to ask you and I know I’m not alone. Wouldn’t it be great if you would collect questions that can be voted up and answer those in a weekly format? That might also decrease the amount of emails you get and more people would be able to get their questions answered from you. I think 15-30 minutes would be great. I think the main difference to all the other Q&A shows is, that you can cover such a big variety of topics!

    Would love to assist you with setting a voting-system up!

    Keep up the good work, I’m just catching up with all the random show episodes!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. what if we want to meet the busy/smartass person because of a personal interest (big crush), but have no personal contact information, neither of his friends/business circle?

    Like

  5. what if we are interested in that busy influencer, because of a crush on them… but have non of his contact information (nor of his friends…)

    Like

  6. Thanks for your rules, Tim 🙂
    What works good for me so far: Build up a relationship over a long time (months not days or weeks) and offer your help.

    Thanks, Linda

    Like

  7. Reminded me of a very good article written by Steven Pressfield on the same subject:
    “How to Pitch”

    Thank you Tim!

    Like

  8. Everyone should read this article! I can only imagine Tim has been receiving a few “requests” lately.

    Btw, let us know how we can get your message out wider mate. Always happy to support what you are doing.

    Like

  9. One question… is it better when your first contact is reaching out to that person and offering to be of service to them in some way? Obviously this would be done with no expectation that they owe you anything back at any time. Or, would the influencer then feel that you only offered to help them in the first place because you wanted something?

    Like

  10. Love the advice. I can’t even imagine how difficult it must be to sift through all of the requests that come your way. I especially liked your advice on building relationships through friendly introductions. Definitely getting to work on building my network after reading this. Thanks!

    Like

  11. Thanks for the tips, Tim!!

    I’ve found if you first ask for a quote from an influencer in your niche for an article you’re writing, then there is a great chance that once your article is published they will share it and maybe even link to it (if it’s good enough).

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Thanks for the rules, Tim 😀

    What works good for me, is build up a relationship in the long run and offer your help, when you see the opportunity 🙂

    Linda

    Like

  13. I love this, Tim. Man, I hate “keeping in touch” and “useless lunches” that people invite me to. Sometimes its enough to know you had a good interaction once upon a time and leave it at that. The easy out is also a great tip.

    Like

  14. Thanks for this information! Recently, I came across an old message board post by someone who later became a New York Times best-selling author. I had some questions I wanted to ask, so I used some of these tips when I contacted her. To my delight, I got a personal response answering my questions within a few days.

    Fear of rejection can keep us from reaching out to others. After this experience, I realize that some obstacles I face are ones I create, based on false assumptions. It is possible to become immobilized by these imaginary barriers. However, when I connect the lessons from stoicism, they cease to exist.

    Like

  15. The “long game” is so important, I now reach out to cool people well in advance of ever thinking I might want or need their influence. A cold e-mail CAN work wonders if it is a genuine thank you with specific positive feedback about a recent piece of content or work of theirs that you admire instead of a pitch.

    Like

  16. Dear Tim,

    Pls tweet me a birthday wish? Of course no worries if you’re too busy to reply. I know how busy you are.

    Warmest wishes to you and yours,
    SH

    Like

  17. Sounds good. Thanks for the template. One thing I don’t like is the length. Who has time to read. Get to the point of the email and ask.

    Like

  18. Your posts get so many positive comments I wasn’t going to bother adding to the mass – but it is good and you do deserve credit for your great work so I gave in – Great post!

    Like

  19. Nice stuff ..this falls in alignment with give and then ask, giving the mentor privacy, convenience and respect and asking for a favor, Tim is generous and if we dont annoy him he will definitely like to help us.. thanks Tim for your efforts to pick me up from where I am to where Inwant to go… your work is really helpful specially the 8020rule

    Like

  20. We run a women’s wrestling company, trying to make real wrestling a thing on the mats. Very helpful. We were pitching celebrities on sponsoring one of the ladies as all this needs is a bit of “legitimacy” to break through the barriers. Good stuff.

    Like