In business, you're trained to seek warm introductions to people you don't know. But as life would have it, the people you most desperately want to meet are almost always the ones who are out of your network. After all, how many common connections do you have with Mark Cuban or Sheryl Sandberg? (That's what I thought.)
The good news is that you don't need a warm introduction to capture the attention of these people (or anyone, for that matter). Sure, billionaires are hard to reach, but it's not impossible. In fact, anyone can do it; you just need the right tools.
With a little patience, ingenuity, and persistence, you can use the strategy below to create new relationships out of thin air--literally. The best part: this same approach can be applied for a variety of business purposes, like sourcing strategic clients, generating PR for your company, or finding a lead investor for your next capital raise.
So how can you effectively capture the attention of someone you don't know?
Personalize your communications, and focus on the title.
While it sounds easy enough, personalized communications are rare. Most people are overeager, launching straight into their pitch by introducing themselves, their products, and what they want. But guess what: Mark Cuban doesn't care about you, your products, or what you want. Mark Cuban cares about Mark Cuban, period (duh).
Savvy salespeople and entrepreneurs understand the subtleties of human behavior--that we are all inherently self-interested--and use this insight to their advantage. By tailoring the title of your email and catering to your prospect's ego, you can differentiate your message and stand out from those who don't know better.
Importantly, the more personal your message is, the better. Here's one example.
A few months ago, I sent a cold email to Leon Wagner, Founding Partner of GoldenTree Asset Management ($27 billion under management), and CEO of LWPartners, his personal family office. I thought LWPartners would be an ideal investor in my fintech marketing firm.
Early in his career, Wagner served as Senior Vice President in the high yield bond department at Drexel Burnham Lambert, a Wall Street investment bank most infamously known for its illegal activities in the the junk bonds market, which was driven by Michael Milken.
I read a book about Drexel Burnham in which the author referenced a legendary X-shaped trading desk that served as Milken's command center at their Beverly Hills office. Wagner was one of the executives who sat at this desk.
The title of my email to Wagner: "X-shaped trading desk // CrowdfundX." Beyond the title, I personalized the first paragraph of my email by noting some of Wagner's key career accomplishments, and how I was inspired by them. Only in the second paragraph did I briefly introduce myself, my company and ask for a meeting.
Sure enough, Wagner responded almost immediately, and agreed to take a meeting.
I'm guessing I had him hooked at the title, since the X-shaped trading desk is not common knowledge, and dates back to the mid 1980s. The point is that by leveraging highly personal (yet publicly available) information, my message stood out, and elicited the desired response from my prospect.
Beyond personalizing your communications--most importantly, the title--it's also necessary to follow-up with persistence and professionalism.
Especially with hard to reach people, you should anticipate sending at least four to six messages (cycling between email, LinkedIn and voicemail, when possible) before getting a response--maybe more.
I usually send a maximum of three messages per week. I also like to forward my previous emails or LinkedIn messages for context, which helps the prospect to not only see my past communications, but the sincere effort behind it.
If you're planning to pursue this strategy with a billionaire, I suggest honing your approach with easier targets first. Research your prospects thoroughly on Google, YouTube, or even books, and craft a highly personalized email title and first paragraph all about them.
You might be surprised how easy it is to get a meeting with someone by demonstrating intimate knowledge about their personal or professional life. And once you use this approach successfully with one person--you'll realize you can use it with anyone.
Happy hunting--now go sell something.