Now granted, this preferred method is not always so simple, and may not be easy to find. You can always start with their website or social media page. But I’ve found that most of the people I want to reach, I can contact them directly, and if not, they have listed a way to reach their representative (agent, etc.) on their website.
Because of the nature of Twitter streams, the person may not catch your query on your first try (and ideally, you should develop a relationship with the person before diving in and asking them for something that primarily benefits you, such as a book endorsement or a guest post.
I have this “can-do” attitude about reaching people because I have forced myself to overcome the fear of rejection. As a budding freelancer, I’m not going to get clips (for free nor for pay) if I don’t speak up. No one’s going to come along and offer me anything that I really want (unless they’re a good friend who knows what I’m looking for, or a mind reader). I actually believe that if I want to talk to President Obama directly, I can (don’t roll your eyes—I know it would take a while, but I CAN). And I’d love to. But first I’ll tell you what I’ve already done.
I’m a technical writer by day, but I’ve got a book I plan to publish next year for young adults. I’ve also been eyeing some major magazines I want to write for as a contributor. So I hit up several well-known authors and players in the publishing industry last winter (around Christmastime!) and ALL of them responded and were willing to have me interview them, even though I didn’t have “a name” or a special place I knew I would publish the work. It was a privilege for me, not to mention very unselfish and gracious of them–they’re all very busy but made to talk to what I then considered “little old me.” (This is the resulting award-winning article.)
I’ve got several people I would love to endorse my forthcoming book, and a few would I’d love to write a foreword for it. But I’m not going to just pop up and say, “Hey, I love your work? I know you don’t know me from Adam, but could you stop what you’re doing to read my book, and give me a quote to endorse it so it will sell faster?”
That is not a good look. When someone comes up to you with a generic, thinly-veiled “buy-my-product” pitch, it’s a turn off.
But if you market yourself the right way, it’s kind of like politics–when you see enough signs on the road with candidates’ names, you remember them name even if you don’t personally know those people. Here are a few tips that worked for me:
- Participate in conversation wherever your desired contact is active. Get involved with online and/or in-person networking. Don’t be afraid to let your personality come through (err on the conservative side in the beginning though). And please, use a good picture of yourself too.
- Consider the person’s brand (what are they known for, and what causes do they support), then use your good common sense to determine whether that person is a good contact for the project you’re seeking their help on.
- Provide the person with value in some way. (Check out Dave Navarro’s excellent, free workbook about networking with A-listers for all the details).
- Ask, and you shall receive. (If you don’t, switch a bit and keep trying.)
Meeting With A Mentor
11 months ago, I interviewed an author I highly respect, Ms. Denene Millner How did I get the interview? I sent her a simple message on Facebook and asked. Did we have any mutual friends to introduce us? No. I simply asked to interview her, sent her some questions, and she responded in kind. I even Once I moved to Atlanta, I let her know and she offered to meet me for lunch, which I was honored to do. She is a sweetheart! There we discussed some friendly things, parenting things, and political things. She also let me pick her brain a bit about publishing/writer things and it was great.
The moral of the story? No one is totally out of reach, but regardless of how popular the person whom you have your sights set on, you’ll need to start early. There may be only six degrees of separation (maximum) between you and your desired contact. Don’t wait until your situation becomes such that you needed this contact “yesterday.”
Who are you trying to reach, and to what end (that is, what are you trying to accomplish with this contact?) Have you had success with this method or another one?