How to build relationships with influential people

We all want to build strong, long-lasting relationships with influential people—whether they’re CEOs, investors, advisors, or your personal heroes.

That’s why we go to conferences and networking events. That’s why we send emails and tweets. But there’s one part of this dance that people always forget: the follow up.

It’s no secret that I believe in the power of the follow up. I even wrote a book on the subject.

So today, I want to show you how to use the follow up to build powerful relationships, especially with people in high demand.

Want more follow up advice? Download your free copy of The Follow Up Formula right now.

It’s difficult to build a relationship in a few short minutes

But that’s where so many people devote their energy at conferences: If I just say the right thing—if I just ask the right question—we’ll be friends forever.

They worry about establishing an intimate (and instant) bond with someone who’s about to meet hundreds or thousands of other conference attendees. They focus too much time on that first interaction, and not enough time on the second, third, and fourth.

Keep in touch

When you come up to me—or anyone—at a conference and you ask for advice, don’t just disappear into the mist after our conversation. I’ve invested time in you, even if it’s only five minutes. There’s a good chance I’m already invested in your story. When you just say thanks, and you go on your way never to be heard from again, that sucks for both of us.

Successful networkers ask for advice and then they follow up. They come back later to let me know whether the advice worked. They share results. And they ask more questions.

Send me an email and keep it simple. Here’s all you need to say:

“Hey Steli, thanks again for chatting with me a couple weeks ago. Based on your advice, I tweaked our pitch deck and now we’ve closed three deals in the past week!

How long should I wait to hear back from prospects who say they need some time to consider their options?”

You don’t have to send me spreadsheets or charts. I don’t need hard data. Just let me know how you’re doing.

And then keep providing updates.

If you don’t have a question or action item for me, that’s okay. Share an update anyway:

“Hey Steli, thanks again for all your help as I launch this company. Below, you’ll find a quick update. Feel free to read it, if you have timeI just wanted to keep you in the loop.”

That way, when you do have a question, or you need some advice, I have context. You won’t have to send a 3,000-word email to get me back up to speed.

Following up builds our relationship

It allows me to follow your journey, even if I’m only a passive observer. The next time we interact—whether by email or in person—I’ll be more likely to help because I know more about you. I’ll feel more invested. You won’t just be an email address or a face.

I’ll be more willing to put my name on the line for you because I’ll know what you’re capable of. I’ll know how far you’ve come. I’ll know you take advice seriously and ask good questions. I’ll know you care about your business.

This is also true when you’re dealing with investors

Most startup founders don’t do a great job of keeping their investors in the loop. It’s actually something I was terrible at for a long time—I never sent regular investor updates. One of our investors still isn’t talking to me because of this. He got upset that I didn’t let him know how we were doing, and the relationship fell apart.

The difference between an investor who’s capable of helping you, and an investor who’s willing to help you, is massive. And it all comes down to this:

Are you keeping your investor updated? Are they committed to your success because you’ve helped them feel committed? Are you sharing results? Are you asking questions? Do they have context?

If the answer to any of these questions is no, you’ve got some work to do. I’m much better at this now, but it took a shitty situation to teach me how important this really is.

Hustle = show up + follow up + follow through

When you don’t follow up, you’re missing a huge part of the hustle formula. You’re showing up by introducing yourself, but without the other two parts of the equation, there’s little chance you’ll build any meaningful relationships.

After we meet, follow up, and then follow through. Let me know what happened. Let me know what happened after that happened. What’s working and not working? What are you excited about? What scares you? I want to know this stuff, even if the project is dead or near-dead.

People often send me emails asking for advice. So I point them to a blog post, article, video, or podcast where I address their questions, and I say, “Check this out first, then send me any follow-up questions you have. I’ll be sure to answer them individually.”

And you know what? Few people ever do.

They never even send a note to tell me that the video or blog post helped in some way.

So here’s your homework

Provide regular updates. It’s really that simple.

Don’t be content with a handshake or an introductory email. Don’t rely on advisors, investors, or personal heroes to recognize your genius in two minutes or two sentences. Keep people in the loop. Set a calendar reminder, if that helps.

When you consistently follow up, you’ll be surprised how many influential, high-demand people make time for you. With each interaction, you’ll be one step closer to a strong and long-lasting relationship.

If you have any questions about the power of the follow up (or anything else), I’m only an email away:

For even more follow up advice, get your free copy of The Follow Up Formula: How To Get Everything You Want By Doing What Nobody Else Does. Just click the button below!

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