Building valuable relationships is crucial to anything you do in business. Over the last few years, writing has been one of my greatest networking tools. Through columns in The Huffington Post, Coca-Cola Journey, Addicted2Success.com, and through the release of my brand-spanking new book, 2 Billion Under 20: How Millennials Are Breaking Down Age Barriers and Changing The World, I’ve been able to verbally meet and greet some of the most successful people in the world from multiple generations.
Building valuable relationships is crucial to anything you do in business. Tweet This Quote
These people consist of #1 NYT best selling authors, founders of billion dollar brands, C-suite executives of some of the fastest-growing companies, professional athletes, actors, and in the book, seventy-five of the world’s smartest and most talented Millennials from over twenty different countries.
It will seem easy once you go through the steps with me, but the secret lies in whether or not you’re willing to put in the work and articulate your goals to others in your reach-out efforts. If you’re conscious of both of those things, then here’s a step-by-step process for connecting with almost anyone, in almost any industry, through writing.
Determine Your Writing Outlet
At the most basic level, you can begin writing for free on outlets like Medium or with blogging platforms like WordPress. This article isn’t meant to be a tutorial on using either, but it is important to have a writing platform with which you can transfer ideas from your word processor and keyboard onto the Internet for others to see.
After publishing a few articles, you have two different paths you can take to “level up” (and you can explore each in tandem). You can develop a dedicated website and blog of your own, such as I have with The Gap Year Experiment, my second book in the works. I created a dedicated site and blog where I regularly post new content, building the site’s credibility and allowing me to interview and feature new people. The other path is securing columns in other media outlets, such as The Huffington Post, Inc., or Coca-Cola Journey. These writing outlets will help you leverage the credibility and collective following they’ve built, allowing you to build your own credibility.
Determine How You Want To Connect
There are many ways to use writing to connect with people, and each way brings with it different levels of success, as well as higher levels of connection or investment later on.
You can conduct a written interview with someone (in the past, I’ve even asked super busy people for one sentence responses to just one question, and they’ve obliged). You can also conduct a phone or Skype interview over a half hour to get more information and backstory, allowing you to also establish a relationship with an interviewee. You can also ask for a guest blog post, and, as we did with 2 Billion Under 20, you can even ask people to contribute longer-form content into a collection of other stories and book-ready material.
Each of the above ways of connecting constitutes a different required commitment from the person you’re looking to connect with. As we go from one sentence response written interviews to three page, longer-form contributions to even larger pools of content (and there’s obviously more options than those listed above), the level of commitment increases. Although you get less response initially, with the responses you do get, you start increasing the level of relational investment (given the amount of time you spend connecting with, interviewing, and incorporating one another’s thoughts).
While I’ve been able to interview some of the most successful people I’ve come to know through one sentence response interview requests, some of my most valuable friendships come from asking others to contribute to my book—spending hours creating longer-form content.
Determine Your Value Proposition
Clearly articulate the value of someone’s time in contributing content, insights, and ideas for you to write about. Are they getting exposure for their company or brand? If so, give them some metrics of how many social media impressions you estimate your interview or feature on them will receive.
Clearly articulate the value of someone’s time in contributing content, insights, and ideas for you to write about. Tweet This Quote
Will their story be seen by tens of thousands of highly targeted people? Our book contributors decided to chip in their stories because they knew potential peers, as well as corporate executives, members of the media, and even business celebrities would read their stories.
Can they leverage a guest blog post or interview for “social proof”? If you contribute to Forbes, The Huffington Post, Inc., or any major outlets of the sort, it would be valuable for people you would like to connect with to reference their feature and inclusion. Provide value upfront by determining your value proposition in reaching out for your writing efforts. Then, you’re setting the stage for a healthy, mutually beneficial relationship moving forward.
Deliver and Follow Up
If you interview someone for an article or a book you’re thinking about writing, make sure those projects are released into the world in a reference-friendly way to your interviewees. You asked them for their time, so now make sure it was worthwhile.
You can connect with anyone by providing them value upfront. Tweet This Quote
Once you’ve done that, you’ve provided value to someone who you’ve really wanted to connect with. Congratulations! Now, follow up and turn that warm connection into a meaningful, long-term relationship.
Whether you regularly blog as part of your business’s content marketing strategy, as a way to recruit people to join your social missions to better society, for fun, as a learning tool for yourself to gather important information for a certain field, or as part of a larger project like the book my co-author and I just released, you can use your typing powers to create new, long-lasting relationships. You can connect with anyone by providing them value upfront, showcasing their work and adequately following up to continue the interaction. By doing this, you, your business or non-profit, and others benefit.