How to Network with People Who Stretch You
We all have VIPs in our circles. By VIP, naturally I mean “Very Interesting People”. And by “very interesting” I mean they work at a company you admire, own a company you are following or they have some project going on that fascinates you. .Just this year I made friends with a Hollywood scriptwriter, an award-winning neuro-leadership performance coach and a national intellectual property attorney who also owns a paper goods business. None of these lovely professionals are clients but each one helped me grow my business. Even better, they stretched me. That’s what hanging out with interesting people does for you. Networking with interesting people stretches you.
You know how Jim Rohn says you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with? What if you want to hang out with some different people? That is, without divorcing your children and moving to another city.
Here’s how I do it. And remember, I’m a card-carrying introvert, someone who’s default activity is reading books in my room with the door shut.
Networking with VIPs: 3 Ways to Start
You hire them.
I hired Melissa Cassera in 2015 when I joined her year-long Obsessed copy writing program. I consider myself a good writer with academic cred, but today’s audiences are so busy, they only read skim read stuff that is funny, or at least fun. Does anyone actually read what college professors are writing? Only those who are forced to for their research papers.
I have been working with Melissa since then and even flew out to Los Angeles in May to meet with her in a small group workshop. She has stretched me by showing more creative ways to communicate and she takes it for granted that I can write a book.
What is the value when someone you respect sees more ability in you than you see yourself?
You reach out to them after an event.
I met Angie Avard Turner near the end of the last Summit. While we immediately connected, she lives 6 hours away from me so getting together for coffee was not really an option. She’s an attorney, I’m a conversation coach. But I knew I wanted to get to know her better.
So I reached out to her to talk about possibly creating a “pitching for creatives” workshop. Soon after I interviewed her for this article pitching. And now we’re sharing a room at the upcoming Summit.
Angie has stretched me by confidently envisioning our working together with creative entrepreneurs, when I usually work with technical professionals. I value the way she addresses pitching as she comes from a different point of view.
You invite the person to lunch.
Liz Guthridge is a local colleague who’s a leadership consultant. After running into her at a few local business events, I asked her to lunch. Which sounds like a normal thing to do but for me, asking an almost stranger to lunch was outside of my comfort zone. Coffee, no problem. Lunch, I’m worried about lettuce sticking to my teeth.
That was a year ago and since then Liz and I have lunch almost every month. She stretches me in a few ways, including personal style. She is ultra-chic, sophisticated and ALWAYS dressed like she’s having lunch with Miranda Priestly.
She’s has expertise that I don’t. She knows people that I don’t. And vice versa.
Networking with interesting people stretches you. – Laura Mixon Camacho
Networking with VIPs: Initial Contact Tips
Networking in Person
When you meet your Very Interesting Person, ask specific (but not personal) questions that show you’ve done your homework. Do NOT ask generic, “How did you start your business”? Find a detail, a connection, a unique point of view and ask about that.
If you were meeting photographer Gray Malin, rather than ask for the millionth time, “How did you get started in photography?” (Not that this question is stupid; it’s highly forgettable.) Ask, “Why did you use llamas in this particular photo, instead of zebras?” Or, I admire X piece because of Y.
Make a list of 10 VIPs and get their email addresses. (Yes, you can find anyone’s email address if you look carefully.) Email them with one of these two approaches.
SUBJECT LINE: Awesome interview!
I read about your new business in Fast Company magazine. I think what you’re doing is amazing and I’ll be following your work.
I really admire that you make everyone wear pink on Tuesdays (OR WHATEVER STRIKES YOUR SPECIFIC FANCY.)
Bold Approach (when you can actually meet with this person)
SUBJECT LINE: Sweet Briar Grad – would love to chat with you
My name is Laura Camacho and I read about you in the latest SBC alumnae newsletter. (Let the person know how you came across them to avoid creepiness.)
I am a huge fan of your company’s chocolate chia seed butter and would love to meet with you next month when I’m in Rock Hill for a friend’s wedding. I can come to your company. Is there any possibility I could take you a coffee on and chat for 20 minutes that Thursday or Friday xxx? I want to know how you manage that new packaging process for your chocolate chia seed butter.
And then, follow up.
If you take the Soft Approach, send another specific comment in a month or so. Then try to meet up with that person.
If you take the Bold Approach, meet if that works out, and try again later if it does not. Make sure you thank them for their time and let them know later on how their advice/input helped you.
Don’t ever think you that VIP would never have time for the likes of you (it’s all about the approach.) High performers love to meet with other VIPs, including you. I hope I get to meet you soon!