2. Build relationships with industry leaders through giving generously. People often ask me how I've built relationships with top CEOs, magazine editors and Internet celebrities. Here’s the secret: by generously adding value.
I’m a big believer in building your network before you need it. Meaning: If you see an opportunity to help leaders or influencers, take action right away. Just remember — it’s really important that anything you do is first and foremost coming from a genuine desire to help without an expectation to get anything in return. That’s the only way to build authentic relationships with the people you really admire.
It’s human nature that when you give generously, down the line, other people will naturally want to help you too. As entrepreneurs, our biggest opportunities come from influential individuals who care about us and believe in us — whether it is recommending our services to people in their network, connecting us to media or speaking opportunities, or referring us to potential partners who can help us grow our businesses.
Networking should be done in a thoughtful way, but it doesn’t need to be overly strategic. The people who inspire you and who you are naturally drawn to help are likely people who might one day be able to help you as well.
When Danielle LaPorte, a thought leader I really admire, was launching her new book “The Firestarter Sessions,” I saw an opportunity to help. I reached out and asked Danielle if she would like me to pitch her book to O, The Oprah Magazine, and she emphatically replied, “YES!”
I put thought and care into it, creating a beautiful care package with red fire paper bursting out of the bag, a red fire chocolate bar, Firestarter tattoos and a copy of “The Firestarter Sessions.” I then hand-delivered it to Hearst Magazines and crafted an extremely personalized pitch letter to a specific O Magazine editor. By going above and beyond, I stood out to Danielle as someone who cares about her and adds value to her business and life.
3. Get endorsements from leaders. Once you begin giving generously, it is natural that the recipient will naturally express their thanks, often in an email. With their permission, you can use their response as a testimonial.
This is how I got the testimonial from Danielle, which is still on my website to this day. When I forwarded her the pitch I crafted for O Magazine and sent her a picture of the care package, she responded by saying, “Selena! This pitch is impeccable. Every angle, the whole spirit of it… For the love of God, THANK YOU.” I got her permission to use that email as a testimonial.
At the time, I hadn’t even started my own business yet. But by the time I launched my website and officially announced my business, I had testimonials from Danielle and many other thought leaders in my industry, as well as numerous magazine editors. This was a direct result of me building relationships where I was generously adding value over time. With these powerful endorsements, I was positioned as the go-to publicity expert from day one of my business.