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How To Make Deals With Bigshots in Less Than 10 Minutes

Posted By Darren Rowse 19th of January 2009 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

This is a guest post from Laura Roeder, creator of The Dash.

As I’m writing this, I just got off the phone with the famous Gary V. We spoke for less than ten minutes and now a fun collaborative venture is underway. You should know that before today I had never spoken with or met Gary. In fact, before we scheduled this call he had no idea who I was!

No One Is Out Of Your League

I used to think that people like Gary were “out of my league”. If you feel the same way, you need to drop that ridiculous thought like a hot potato! Once I changed my view I started befriending some of the brilliant entrepreneurs that I used to admire from afar. No one is too important for you to contact. It’s always worth a shot, and if you follow the communication plan that I’ve outlined below your chances of success will be much higher.

Your Seven Step Communication Plan

Here is how to achieve the results you want in contacting important people, or proposing that people help you. Just use this step-by-step guide to model your call or email.

1. Keep the chit-chat to a minimum. Follow their lead if they want to make small talk later, but in the beginning you should get to the point quickly. If this feels awkward to you, start the call by saying “Alright, let’s get right to it!”

2. Do not assume that they know who you are or have read materials you’ve sent them. I started the conversation by asking Gary if he would like a brief overview of the project I was proposing. (I like to ask this first so that I don’t launch into a 10-minute spiel of information that they already know.) Do not take it personally if people have no clue who you are, they are taking the time to speak with you because they want to know who you are!

3. Tell them exactly what you’d like them to do; NEVER contact someone and say “Hey I thought we could do a joint venture, any ideas?” NO NO NO! Don’t make them work for you, always come from the position that you are working for them. The benefit is two-fold. One, they will be happy that you came to the table with something. Two, it is much easier to agree to an idea (especially an awesome one) than to think of an idea on your own. Make it easy for them to say yes! Which leads to my next point . . .

4. Give them an original, creative idea! How often do you think Gary is contacted with “Hey, why don’t you do a show on merlot!” That is BORING and he’s done it before. Don’t waste people’s time. Come to the table with something exciting, and do your research.

5. Ask if there’s anything else they would like to discuss. You are leading the conversation, not dominating it. Make sure you give them a chance to ask clarifying questions or throw in their own ideas.

6. GIVE NEXT STEPS! So many people overlook this and finish a call with “Um, then I guess we’ll get back in touch in a few months?” I ended my call with Gary by confirming exactly what both of our next steps would be. You need to take ownership of putting your plan into action.

7. Follow up with a thank you and a summary of your correspondence. Then follow up regularly via email, weekly or monthly as appropriate to the timeline you discussed. Following up is not bothersome, it is essential.

Laura Roeder is the founder of Roeder Studios, a boutique firm specializing in digital publicity. Her free program, The Dash, provides weekly step-by-step video instructions on how to rock out your web presence. To become a member, go to GetTheDash.com.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. Excellent tips for transacting effectively. I always do the ‘give next steps’ very clearly, especially in real life, as it shows commitment and foresight as well as being useful. Sometimes it’s hard to tell people what you’d like to do though!

  2. Great advice. I always find the hardest thing to do is take the first step. As you indicated, no one is really off limits.

    One more thing I might add is to not be discouraged if you open yourself up, but don’t get a response, or not the response you’re looking for. Often times, flexibility comes in very handy.

  3. seems interesting, will be trying it out and will let you know what happens!!

    Thanks a lot


  4. When my web business became mildly successful, I use to have friends and family members come out and say “that’s great. I want to work with you on something…”

    They didn’t offer any ideas or say how they could help.

    The first few times it wasn’t that bad, but it gets frustrating. People like Gary probably receive this type of communication regularly. So, you should definitely listen to Laura’s advice and come at these “bigshots” with an action plan.

  5. It’s like the excitement of opening a door and not knowing what lies behind. I met with a former Sec of Treas and I was surprised as to how down to earth he was and HIS great listening skills. Those that do what is most uncomfortable are usually most successful. Just do it.

  6. Extremely well written post. Very useful information and very concisely written. It has given me the courage AND and the tools to make a big project happen that I was toying with.

    The only things I would add are:
    1) look for a connection through your network to make an intro happen that can give you instant credibility. Barring that, a cold call can have surprising results.
    2) get the person’s attention before you make a direct contact or proposal. twitter is a great tool for that


  7. thanks, I am saving this one in my favorites for a refresher because I am more of a talker…but I usually follow these steps.

    thanks again.

  8. Congratulations Laura on getting something arranged with Gary. It’s only recently that I discovered who he was and his energy about the subjects he talks about is infectious.

    I’m sure you will succeed with this new venture, I wish you the best of luck.

  9. Interested article, though i liked one part which says no-no-no for instant JV plans, i get many people who call me and ask for a Joint Venture, though i dont know them and this makes me instantly put the phone conversation down. :)

  10. I think #4 should be #1 as without #4, the rest is all meaningless.

  11. I used this same technique when approaching a manufacturer about a possible partnership/sponsorship of a series of posts.

    The most important thing is being prepared and knowing exactly what you want to accomplish before picking up the phone.

    Have your stats ready and your entire proposal ready to go. If you are prepared and have facts/projections that back up your goals…then you are right…no one is too big. Just be realistic and honest… and most importantly…deliver on your promises!

  12. This is great advice. It’s always a mistake to think that someone is “Out Of Your League”. Whoever it is, they’re a person, just like you. If you have a well thought out proposal, and you deliver it in the way suggested above, they’ll most likely listen. Thanks for the post!

    – Dave

  13. This is good advice, and very true. I’m a “medium-shot” and I focus on other “medium-shots” offering them the benefit of mutual growth.

    Just this week I added over 1OK NEW VISITORS by one such “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours…”

    I’ll be talking about how I did it on my site this week…

    Brent Riggs

  14. Great Tips!
    It has been my policy…”Ask, what can they do,say no?”
    Your tips put you in control.

    To your success on your new venture.


  15. Always good to have a reminder like this. You may get rejected but that one good collaboration can make it all worth while.

  16. Kudos, Laura, for putting such good advice in clear points that can be applied to any business. Besides all the benefits you’ve articulated, when we approach successful entrepreneurs in this way, it also makes it easier for them to recognize our potential–chances are they got where they are by following the same method–helping them feel more confident doing business with us. Even when a particular pitch doesn’t come to fruition, a door to the future can be opened.

  17. In the blogosphere there are a very few people that everyone seems to know. Must people who think are big, might just be a little bigger than you are. You never know how many people know who you or have heard of you, so it is always good to keep an open mind when meeting someone that you think is a big shot

  18. Wonderful advice. I often feel others are as you say, out of my league. This post has given me more confidence to make contact.

  19. Getting joint ventures was the very first serious step I took in building my online business…and I’m a natural introvert! I’ve interviewed such folks as Mr. Mark Joyner, Tellman Knudson, Dr. Joe Vitale and others…

    yes, great advice indeed…”no one is out of your league”…I love it!

  20. Learning to blog says: 01/19/2009 at 5:35 am

    Exactly who is Laura and what does she do, other than generating bs like this “Roeder Studios has designed a new model for leveraging the web to propel brand momentum and transform your tribe into a vibrant, engaged community.” ??

  21. Without #4 the person will probably never talk to you again. Unfortunately #4 is the hardest one. I would even venture to state that #4 is the only that matters. If you have #4 then you could talk to them anyway you want to and they will have to listen.

  22. That’s an excellent piece of advise…

    A phone call is much more personal than an e-mail where the “celebrity” can simply have someone from his crew to reply to all the buggers…


  23. @Learning to Blog – Does it matter who Laura is? She gave great tips. Additionally, the real question is… “who the hell is “Learning to Blog.” At least she has a name and a website.

  24. After reading Tim Ferris’ 4-hour work week, I had a goal of contacting the author of a book I had just read. I figured it would be difficult to get in touch with a best-selling author.

    To my surprise, in 4 days and 3 phone calls, I was able to get to the author himself and had a good discussion about his book and some additional thoughts on how it may directly impact my own situation.

    It is freeing to realize that no one is out of reach, if you can just put things into action. Great post!

  25. Great advice, you really covered all the bases on this I think. Very timely for me also, as I am gearing up to apporach some bigshots myself in the near future.

  26. I find it helpful to use a title if you have one. For example, editor and founder or so and so. Or CEO of a company. Even if it’s a blog or smaller business it impresses. Be truthful, of course.

  27. Laura

    Thanks for such a well written post, and providing us some great guidelines to follow. I like your view of taking the lead in the conversation and leaving room for the other party to add thier views or ideas.

    Instead of a pounding of your onesided proposal in hopes that they will just agree to work with you. Being that most online experts aren’t as hard to connect with as some of us might think. You might now be just five steps of seperation away form Kevin Bacon.

    Gary McElwain

  28. This is true it’s important to know that you create your own path in life. Most people who are there had to make it there them self and can relate to you. Bring value to the projects your propose by being informed on their topic.

    Just make sure both side get a fair deal and most companies and people will hear you out. Most will put trust in you do the right thing with there business and referrals will follow on there own.

    Good Luck

    Now Go Make It Happen Captain!!

  29. It’s very cool how this relates to Gary’s latest post about how he’s a ZZZ list celebrity!

  30. WOW I am overwhelmed by the number of fantastic, insightful comments!

    I particularly appreciate those of you who added your own advice such as be flexible and search for an existing connection, great tips.

    To all of you that said this inspired you to take action on your own “bigshot project”, you totally made my day. Please keep me posted as to how it went!

  31. very good points, i wish i had read this before my big job interview last week

  32. That’s a very cool story. Just goes to show that you never know who’s going to say “yes”, so it’s a good idea to ask (even if you think your chance of success is zero).

    As good an idea it is to ask, I think Laura executed this perfectly, by having a plan. Her plan was thorough and seemingly all-inclusive, which I’m sure helped out a lot. Very cool story and excellent lessons to be taken from this.

  33. Laura Roeder,

    Great advice in this no post. A guru is just human after all. No one is out of you league, no dream is too big!


  34. very nice idea. I will try to do that because sometimes it is hard do do that

  35. Nice, never give up. Keep growing your network and I liked the “No One is Out of Your League” part. Big names can be quite intimidating at times.

  36. We need more posts like this. Taking fear out of the equation, and just shooting for the stars.

    I also appreciate your effort to remind people to be prepared and deliberate in what they do. Another one of my favorite tips.

    This is something that I believe I will write about more often. Excellent post!

  37. Keeping the chit-chat to a minimum is the key. :)

  38. I would say these are good tips for most proposals like making a sale, asking for a job, asking for a date, even LOL.

  39. Excellent post.

    No one’s out of your league, as long as you’re mature enough to go approach them with certain etiquette. :)

    We “think” small-scale, we’re afraid of approaching big-scale people and that’s why we do not extract as much as we want.

  40. Excellent advice. But I also think that you should have enough traffic and your content should be really good if you contact someone high up.

    Otherwise if they like your idea but they visit your site only to find poor content, I don’t think you will hear from them again:)

  41. I have stumbled this article and also emailing it to some friends. My mother used to always say: “The world is your oyster. Make the most of it.”
    I think if you show the person you have a strong sense of direction and purpose (without being too brash) and yet show you have respect for their time, then they will take a few minutes to listen to you. And something can come from it.

  42. The beautiful part of this is that these steps should be followed no matter the stature of the person involved. it’s a pretty good blueprint for how to be successful no matter the venture.

    Good stuff.


  43. Great article!

    Did want to note that the link for ‘The Dash’ in the tag line at the bottom is messed up!

  44. Thank you for this post! So encouraging and helpful; I am not surprised your new partner decided to work with you. I particularly liked the thought that no one is too important for you. While taking that in it occured to me that blogs and web 2.0 seems to be leveling the playing field for us all. The other thing I appreciate is your outline and steps. You are making launching an idea easier for us who have read your post. Cheers.

  45. The basic idea of having effective communication with bigshots is confidence. You have that and rest just follows.

  46. As someone already stated, it seems these steps are wonderfully on target when making any type of proposal. Taking the initiative is a great quality in someone your doing business with!

  47. Laura,

    Great tips.

    I went to click the link at the bottom of the article to check out The Dash…and this is the link under the text:


    It’s doubled up. I removed the second address, and it worked fine…but just in case, I thought I would alert you. :)


  48. As always thank you! I love reading your blog daily!



  49. Excellent. Please keep us all posted on the progress of the idea. I’m on the edge of my seat!

  50. Going to throw a wrench in the works here and say I don’t see what exactly people see in this post that makes it “excellent.” These things are just common sense and common decency and should apply to dealing with anyone, no matter how big of a “shot” they are.

    Ask yourself: Before you read this blog were you under the impression that a good way to make a deal would be through lots of idle chitchat, false assumptions, vague/ disorganized/uninteresting ideas, and general disrespect for the other party’s time?

    If you answered yes, I feel sorry for you. If not, you haven’t learned anything here.

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