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How Online Entrepreneurs Build Ties with Influential People

How Online Entrepreneurs Build Ties with Influential People

If you’re like many online entrepreneurs, you’ve probably heard of an industry titan named Russell Brunson, CEO of ClickFunnels. If you’ve read any of his books, you’ve probably come across a concept he calls “The Dream 100.”

Brunson’s basic premise is to make a list of the 100 most influential, powerful and successful people you know who could help catapult your business, and then pursue relationships with them until they create an opportunity for you. 

And, let’s face it – if you’re an intelligent and emotionally healthy adult with some degree of how the world works, you may have taken this advice with a grain of salt when you heard it.

Land of Make-Believe

Every shared human activity is susceptible to over-simplified “groupthink” when they’re together, especially at rallies. Friends of mine in religious circles told me about this thing called “Name-It-And-Claim-It,” where people are encouraged to verbally proclaim something they want and then expect God to make it fall into their lap. Yeah, sorry … I do not plan to participate.

Business is no different, especially because your livelihood depends on income growth. A concept like “The Dream 100” makes it seem like all you’ve got to do is send a letter or e-mail to the 100 influential people you’d most like to work with, and one of them will respond, and you’re on your merry way. Such simplistic explanations make me roll my eyes and think, “I’m being played.” Especially if I’ve just dropped a few grand to attend a conference where this is the keynote speaker’s best advice.

I don’t blame you if you feel this way. I couldn’t have agreed more … until the day I could hear Tony Robbins’ voice on the other end of the line in the office next to mine, recording a podcast conversation with a friend of ours through business.

We’re not talking about someone watching a YouTube video of Tony here … this was Jenna Kutcher, hostess of the Goal Digger Podcast, actually interviewing him. Jenna borrowed our office line because she’s friends with Nick, my business partner, and the WiFi in her neighborhood was unreliable.

We were, all of a sudden, one degree of separation away from the all-time leader in motivational speaking and influence. Only then did I realize – although the idea seemed corny, we’d actually followed the Dream 100 strategy, with how we’d made our business grow. Have you ever woken up one day to realize you’ve been following an eternal principle all along … and you were the last one to know? That was how I felt; there was no other explanation for it.

Focus on the Farm Team

The funny thing about “The Dream 100” (or Name-It-And-Claim-It, for that matter) is there actually is a framework and process to increase the LIKELIHOOD you’ll connect with the people on your list, or improve your prospects and opportunities in general.

For starters, let’s rule out the polar opposite. If you declare ahead of time, “I will never work with Tony Robbins, Grant Cardone or Tai Lopez,” then that will certainly become true for you. We can all agree, can’t we – sitting in your home, making paper maché dolls and ignoring every last piece of content these people publish gives you a 100% chance of accomplishing nothing.

You might also have a limiting internal belief – you’re somehow unworthy or unqualified to connect or take advantage of opportunities with public figures. That’s just as much of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Creating a “Dream Zero” list or naming-and-claiming “nothing” will get you the same results as “woo-woo” manifestation exercises do.

Just because you might not be “ready” to connect with public figures doesn’t mean you can’t prepare for it. The good news is that you “practice” on ordinary people; you help the “farm team” of entrepreneurs and leaders you know get one step closer to their dreams. You help them on their way up, because you just don’t know what doors they might be able to open for you if you don’t take the initiative.

What they don’t teach you about the Dream 100 is that, like anything else worth having, it requires hard work. The work in this case is more mental than physical, so don’t break out the pickaxes and shovels. We’re not trying to build railroads; we’re trying to build invisible “bridges” to people where you’d ordinarily have no connection. If you want to sit before big names and cross the barrier, the #1 thing you can do is start with the people you do have access to. 

How to Build Invisible Bridges

I recommend a two-pronged approach to connecting with your Dream 100 list. If you know anything about farming, there are two key things you can’t leave out of any attempt to grow crops – seeds and rain. You need, in other words, a “ground war” and an “air war” to create conditions ripe for building relationships. There’s more on this in a recent podcast episode I recorded with Brian Kurtz.

The “seed-sowing process” here could be compared to “being a good customer” of your target influencer. If they have online courses, buy them! If they speak at conferences and events, pay the costs to go and interact with them live, and share it on social media. If you love the products or content they create, go online and review them. Give one sign after another that you’re out there on the periphery, roaring your agreement with their mission.

Bringing the “rain,” however, creates the need for another important entrepreneurial tool. You need a vehicle to connect with people – a community group, mastermind, podcast, e-mail list … some way of building toward the day that person is willing to offer “star power” to what you do.

Eventually, you’ll get a moment with a public figure. But while you’re waiting for those stars to align, you can use your platform to build “supports” for your invisible bridge. You can interview ordinary people, other entrepreneurs and professionals you know. You can do Facebook Live videos with people who are in the influencer’s inner circle. You can mail out to your list on the influencer’s behalf, asking nothing in return.

How The Sharks Made Their Money

There was a time, not so long ago, that Offline Sharks was a peach-fuzzed startup with two rookie entrepreneurs. We didn’t know anybody, and had as much trouble getting market traction for our offers as the next outfit.

What changed was doing joint ventures with OTHER unknown companies. You see, when you engage another person (or company) in a mutually beneficial effort, you aren’t just engaging one person, or one company. Every single person you engage also brings with them a long list of relationships to which you currently have no access.

But, by providing a ton of up-front value free of charge, with a spirit of generosity, you begin to sow seeds in the soil and moisture in the air. You build the right conditions for other people to reciprocate toward you. What kept happening for us is that we’d do these JV partnerships, and discover to our surprise that someone in the organization had a connection to a key influencer we wanted to meet.

I discussed this same subject with Brian Kurtz in a recent podcast episode. It won’t be the last time I write about it, either. This is something much easier to say than to actually “do,” because it’s not a clear-cut scientific process, and as with farming, some seeds die when you drop them into the ground. Some get choked out by weeds. Sometimes, you just can’t create enough “rain” to make them grow.

But there is an observable “science” to it – it keeps happening over and over to people who actually take time to practice it. You might have to go through 1000 people to find “the one,” but once that door opens … nobody else is even aware it’s open. You (and you alone) get to walk through it. 

For your online business to grow and scale, you’re going to need to learn how this is done.

Until next time.

Tom “Seeds Need Love Too” Gaddis

About the Author
Tom is the host of What's the Secret podcast and co-founder of Offlinesharks.com

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