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8 Wickedly Smart Templates From Successful Entrepreneurs For Connecting With Influencers You Admire

  • Jamie ChengJamie Cheng

Ever run across an influential person you would love to connect with  – but have no idea how to approach them?

Influencers get dozens of requests every day, so why should they pay attention to yours?

The trick is to get on their radar first, without looking like a crazy fan.

And to do that you might need to use some unconventional tactics…

What if you could go back in time and see how successful people began?

What if you could really see how they approached influencers before they were successful?

Wouldn’t that be cool?

Well, that’s what we are doing today.

Today, we’re looking at 8 templates of successful entrepreneurs – templates they used before they were widely known, templates they’ve honed over time through many fun and embarrassing mistakes.

These templates don’t work all the time (you should expect rejection/or a lack of reply as the norm), but with enough patience and persistence they will lead you down the path of success. When combined with your hard work as an entrepreneur, blogger or hustler starting out in business, these will get you to the next level.

Lewis Howes: ‘How The Hell Did You Get There?’ Discovery Interview

“The discovery interview is a great way to connect with successful people that might not be in the spotlight.”

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After all, a lot of them have never told their story. They are not known by anyone outside their industry and they would love to share the wisdom that they spent decades to get.

Seriously… How many people approach the top funeral home marketer to capture his success story? What about the number one waterslide designer or largest exporter of candles?

This strategy is great for you if you don’t know what kind of business you want to build. You are in exploration mode, being flexible and taking action.

For this strategy to work best, you need to talk to many people. That way, you will open up opportunities that you never knew existed.

Lewis Howes used this method to go from couch bum to earning an income from connecting people he talked with and hosting meetups.

Here’s Lewis Howes’ template:

Hey – My name is [Name] and I’m a [who you are – student, athlete, writer].

I really admire the success you have had in your career and life. [Specific points of life/career you admire, mutual connections, mutual interests].

Would you mind if I ask you a few questions about how you got to where you are over the phone or coffee?

[Full Name]

Note: Your email should be on point. Keep it short for your first few emails.

Once they say yes, it’s time to write down a few questions to get the conversation rolling.

Advice from Lewis Howes on what to say in the interview:

To capture their story: ‘I would love to learn about your success and how you got to where you are.’

To close out the conversation: ‘So what’s the biggest challenge you have right now? Or, what’s the big thing you are trying to achieve?’

Note: This is a discovery interview for you to learn about the person. This is not the time to seek advice or ask for a favor.

Mixergy (Andrew Warner): Simple ‘Thank You’ To Lifelong Friendship

“Saying a simple 'Thank You' is great to connect and be on the radar of someone you admire.”

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Saying thank you can open a few doors, and over time it may even build deeper relationships!

This networking tactic is used a lot in the Mixergy community where ambitious entrepreneurs are hustling to build companies. They listen to interviews, hear something that gives them a breakthrough in thought and they thank the person for sharing their wisdom.

The real fun begins after saying thank you. Just like the Mixergy community, someone else’s insight leads to you towards taking action, facing obstacles and getting results. This gives you a great opportunity to reach out to the influencer again and share your experience.

Here’s how the Mixergy community does it:

Step 1. Say thank you for [specific blog post/interview/key piece of advice] over Twitter or email.

Step 2. Absorb what they shared and take action on their advice.

Step 3. Share your results. This is what I implemented and these are the results I got.

Note: Andrew Warner explains that Twitter works better for busy people because it doesn’t require any action on their part and it’s something they can show everyone. Plus an email is much less sharable  – but it’s also easily found when you reconnect.

Derek Halpern: Here’s My Personal Case Study Results

You’ve got valuable experiences, experiences that no one else has. Sharing this experience with someone you admire to connect and develop a relationship can be really valuable.

The thing is: no one can know everything. Top performers consume information at a ridiculous rate. But even billionaires don’t know everything you know.

Derek Halpern used this tactic quite effectively to get connected with influencers when he started his business. Today, he charges 10x what his competitors charge by being an authority and understanding his value.

You don’t need to be the best (but it helps) when you understand how much value you can deliver.  The key to using this tactic is to demonstrate you’re entertaining with your experiences and expertise You want to show that you have fun by taking action and getting results. That’s someone that successful people want to be around.

Here’s Derek Halpern’s template:

Hey – I’m [Name] and congrats on your [new launch].

I noticed you were using [this payment plan]. I know you don’t know me but I ran some [tests on payment plans] and discovered that [the payment plan you’re using is horrible].

Here’s my data.

I’m hoping you see different results but I just thought I’d share this with you so you can keep an eye out.

Good luck on your launch.

Note: This is used to get known for your expertise and connect with people you admire. So you need to learn and get good at something beforehand.

This is the only strategy I use to actively get consulting work. No website, no business name, no business cards. I simply share my past experiences and the results I achieved for my clients and for myself.

My strategy has evolved very little over time. But I will say that I do this through the mail, rather than online. My “expertise showcase” is just a basic physical mail piece that shares something valuable to the person I want to work with.a

I use this over email as the first contact to get myself noticed, then I can follow up with a couple emails if there’s no reply. As a last step, I try a phone call or two if they are someone I really want to get in contact with.

Marc Ecko: The Only Welcomed Bomb In The Mail

The ‘Swag Bomb’ is a modern take on the old concept of sending a thoughtful, deliberate, hand-written note to get yourself noticed by someone noteworthy.

Mark Ecko used this technique to get shout-outs on his local radio stations, which led to his friends’ album catching the attention of some producers. In the end, Mark’s unknown clothing brand was being worn by celebrities – and all because he started by sending ‘swag bombs’ to his local radio hosts.

An effective swag bomb is a modern art: it’s a chance to show off your skill and add real value to the person receiving it.

Create something that goes well beyond a mail sampler that ends up in the trash. A swag bomb has the potential to get your genius in the hands of influencers and make waves.

Marc’s 10 Rules For Using Swag Bombs to Attract Influencer Attention:

  1. Never send directly to someone’s home
  2. Never expect your intended audience to even see it
  3. Never send just the stock stuff
  4. Never have expectations – it’s a gift, not an obligation
  5. Never handwrite your marketing materials
  6. Never use second-hand packaging materials
  7. Never stalk
  8. Never forget to include your name, email, and phone number
  9. Never send a picture of yourself fan-boying out
  10. Never gush

This AK47 Guitar for Wyclef Jean and a DVD of the painstaking creation process would be the ultimate example of a potentially career-propelling swag bomb.

On the other hand, a copy of your book and a kind request to read it or an off-the-shelf version of your product is not a swag bomb at all.

Note: This tactic can be used by anyone (any person, business, service, product). You ‘just’ need to have something of great value specifically for the influencer you are contacting.

James Altucher: Ideas That Give You A Million Dollar ROI

As an entrepreneur, you have a lot of great ideas. The problem is good ideas are just that – ideas. The fact is that your ideas have value only after they are implemented. Using your ideas to get on the radar of someone you admire produces very little downside.

Brilliant simple ideas can be world changing. And not just to you, but to people around you. Perhaps even to that individual with whom you’ve been trying to connect.

Sharing ideas openly while being open with his struggles has allowed James Altucher to be trusted and make millions from his ideas. He’s been invited by people in top companies to share his ideas further and connect with the decision makers.

You may not want to be an “ideas man” like James, but the key principle here is the same: if you have a great idea that will add a tremendous amount of value to someone’s business, using that idea as the opening point to connect with them is an excellent tactic.

Here’s James Altucher’s approach:

Send out 40 letters offering each person 10 quality ideas to improve their business.

Don’t expect replies from anyone.

James explains that he does this for companies he loves. He finds out who in the company to send the ideas, whether anyone else has had the ideas before and checks to see if the ideas are actually great.

Note: 99.99% of ideas are terrible. James Altucher is an idea machine and he still threw out thousands of ideas over a 6 plus month process to come up with the collection of ideas that he mailed out. You can learn how to become an idea machine here.

Bryan Harris: Demo Of Your Awesome

You put a lot of work into your area of expertise, and of course you want to show the world your talent and become the go-to option for your target audience.

All this is great in theory, but what often happens is that, in an effort to make this dream come true, entrepreneurs often agree to work for free in the hopes of being promoted.

There’s is a right way to make this tactic work, and no one is a better example of it than Bryan Harris. Bryan is a successful entrepreneur who landed his first client KISSmetrics with this approach and can now charge clients that appreciate quality content $2000 to $4000 per month for 3-6 minute weekly videos.

Creating something of value for influencers can be life-changing – if you go about it the right way. Look for those opportunities to work with influencers you admire that can give exponential returns in exposure and referral business.

Here’s Bryan Harris’ template:

Subject: [company name] blog video

[Influencer’s First Name],

I love [name of company] (been a customer for months) and I’m also a big fan of your blog and writing.

I work with companies like [mention a client or prospective client here]. Here is one that published earlier this week on their site: [title of published post]

Just wanted to email you and see if [company name] might be interested in a similar series.

I made a [sample/demo/etc] for you based on [mention previous work or related article] to show you what it might look like: [insert title of source and link title to original]

Is this something you guys would be interested in?

[-Your Name]

Note: Demonstrating value and doing a bit of work for free is smart  – when it has a major upside. Expect nothing in return and you’ll get more opportunities and be more grateful. Just make sure you choose companies and influencers that you admire.

You don’t need to have that much experience to do this. You don’t even need a business. But, you do need to be really good at what you do.

Jaime Tardy: Become The Media

With all the content out there – blog posts, podcasts, YouTube videos – influences can get tired of writing or producing their next epic piece of content. This actually works to your advantage. By reaching out to them and asking them to share their wisdom, you can then take action on the advice you receive, and also turn that advice into a piece of content that you can share with a group of people who may never have heard of your influencer before. This makes you look really good to your audience, but it also earns you a lot of points with your influencer of choice.

Jamie Tardy used this tactic to connect with well over a 100 millionaires through interviews, and she used those relationships to become a widely appreciated and sought after brilliant business coach. John Lee Dumans, one of her prominent clients is now generating revenues of over $100,000 per month.

Note: If you’re put off by asking influencers for advice, it’s often easier to approach influencers who are more out of the limelight and have had success a few years ago.

Here’s Jaime Tardy’s script:

“Listen, I realize your time is valuable, so I am happy to pay whatever you think is appropriate for an hour of your time – even if that’s more than your normal rate. Whatever you feel is appropriate, I am happy to PayPal that to you. Can I get on your calendar in the next two weeks?”

Note: Jaime says she has never had someone request payment, but advises you to be prepared to pay for their valuable time. Find a way for others to benefit from the amazing advice you receive and take action on their advice, otherwise you are wasting everyones time.

My team and I interview successful entrepreneurs like Jaime Tardy, John Lee Dumas, Ramsay Taplin, Steve Kamb and try to capture actionable advice our readers can use.  We approach 5-10 people just to get one yes for an interview. Successful people are busy and can’t say yes to everything. But, if you never approach them at all, you’ll never get a yes.

Jon Morrow: Comments That Lead To Guest Posts

The last, but certainly not the least, of our networking templates has to do with leaving valuable comments on your influencers’ blog posts. Well thought out comments can connect and get you on the radar of someone you admire very quickly.

As Jon Morrow explains, genius comments go to the next level. They deliver value, get noticed and beg to be made into guest posts. And guest posts are a great way to deliver value and build your network.

Jon is a giant in the world of blogging, and teaching others to do the same. He’s written posts that have received hundreds of thousands of views and generated him tens of thousands of dollars. Networking advice from someone this smart is well worth your time.

Here are  Jon Morrow’s blog commenting guidelines:

Step 1: Show you understood their post and summarize their whole post or major points in one sentence. Avoid disagreeing… Actually, DON’T disagree.

Step 2: Be insightful and bring up a point they missed that would have made their post stronger.

Step 3: Give a personal example of a story that illustrates the point with words that would excite anyone reading your comment.

Step 4: Conclude with a line that again demonstrates you understand their post and that could potentially be used to conclude a guest post on that topic.

This is Jon’s comment back in 2007 when only a handful of people knew him.

jon morrow comment

Note: Jon advises that you shouldn’t be scared to spend 15-20 minutes on a succinct comment that delivers strong examples. Consistently do this and you will be noticed. Then once you’ve been acknowledged, you can ask for that guest post opportunity.

Action Time: Reach Out To Someone You Admire

By now, you should be feeling pretty confident that reaching out to someone you admire doesn’t have to be hard. It’s all about being a human being and connecting with people who have already faced the problems you are experiencing now.

Influencers want you to succeed with their advice, and when asked for that advice in a respectful way, they will often say yes.

Of course, you’re not going to get a yes 100% of the time. But that one piece of advice, an introduction down the line or even just a nudge in the right direction could be the difference between decades of struggle for you and a path that leads to success.

My challenge to you is to reach out to one person you admire. Now. Today. Use one of these templates and let me know how it goes in the comments below! And, if you have questions, drop me a comment and I’ll do my best to help you out.

27 thoughts on 8 Wickedly Smart Templates From Successful Entrepreneurs For Connecting With Influencers You Admire


Rock solid post! I know we all fear rejection at one time or another but unfortunately that fear can keep us from achieving our greatest accomplishments.

Ma Bell was right, reach out and touch someone – youll never know what’s possible until you take that first step.

Jamie Cheng

Spot on Chris. All too often we are so close as well, only seeing how close we were in hindsight or never realising and forever wondering.

Elaine Cougler

I love posts which are insightful, full of great content, and structured in an easy-to-read-and-understand action plan sort of way. Kudos to you, Jamie for succeeding with all of these points. I particularly like the Action plan ending. Well done! I’m off to take action.

Jamie Cheng

Thanks Elaine.

Great to hear some action will be coming out of this post! Look forward to hearing a success story.

carlos rodriguez

Super post. This was like going into an airplane cockpit without knowing how to fly, then reading the post, and then voila! Instant flight course. You should go deeper into this and create a course!!! The flying high with the pros.

Laura Ryding-Becker

Oooh, a course! What a great idea!

Jamie Cheng

haha – I think this post is enough to get you all started on making some of your own mistakes 😉

Don’t want to take all the fun out of it with a course.

Laura Ryding-Becker

Great ideas, Jamie! Thanks for being so thorough and including each influencer’s specific method. And I thought there was only one way to get on their radar!

Thanks for the article 🙂


Hi Jamie,

Really great post and I am definitely going to use all of these techniques for different people I want to approach.

And I’ve also learned something else. Sometimes you don’t need to do any of this – you just need to send an email.

For my latest enterprise I decided I didn’t want to play small any more, so I write myself what I call my “100 list”. It has on it the hundred people I’d most like to contribute to, be interviewed on or endorse the business. I told myself I only needed to get a single yes for it to be worth it. The first person I asked said yes!

I am now up to about 15 people and I am having approximately 50% success rate. It can take lots of follow up, some want me to get back to them later. Some don’t reply. But some of those contacts also lead to other contacts, who are more likely to say yes because you have a connection in common, so now it is really a list of 110.

Also, once you have a few big names on your website, boy does it increase your credibility.

Three things that probably help get started. First, I appeal to a sense of mission. My business is a social enteprise that aims to do good for people. Second, I tailor the message to the same sense of mission that I know the person I amcontacting has, because I have read their stuff. Third, occasionally (but only occasionally) I have purchased a programme run by the person, so I already show them I value them. I only do this if I actually want the programme, though. A stronger connection is only a by-product.

Oh yes, and finally, I ask them for what I think will be relatively easy for them to create. Usually an interview / podcast, which only takes an hour of their time and which I will publicise like mad.

Your article is a great way to add to the repertoire, showing consideration and generosity to potential contacts. Who wouldn’t want to respond to that?

Jamie Cheng

That’s great to hear Devi.

Great point about joining someone’s program/course – It’s definitely a great way to get noticed when you’re dominating with their material and helping others out as well. Instantly cuts through the clutter.


Love the roll up of the different techniques! if the first few don’t get you on their radar the last bunch will!

Let’s see…
Step 1: Show you understood their post and summarize their whole post or major points in one sentence. Avoid disagreeing… Actually, DON’T disagree.


Oh. A great add on is that you create only Yes or No questions. That way you are very clear and concise with what you are trying to do and they aren’t confused or having to work extra hard for it.

Step 2: Be insightful and bring up a point they missed that would have made their post stronger.


I love writing crazy zen like quotes everywhere and I reached out to the Dali Lama and didn’t hear back from him personally but he did mention how he was glad to hear how some of the buddhist stories were being turned into short tweets. I’m not exactly sure how happy he was really but regardless a few months later I was featured on the same list as the Dalai Lama. It pretty much propelled my twitter rankings to as high as it is.

Step 3: Give a personal example of a story that illustrates the point with words that would excite anyone reading your comment.

Check…I think.

So I think that’s a pretty darn good example of attempting to reach out. I know I didn’t use any of these examples with the Dalai Lama but if I was to try again. I would go ahead and do so. Because I think these are great examples for how to reach out to influencers and busy people!

Step 4: Conclude with a line that again demonstrates you understand their post and that could potentially be used to conclude a guest post on that topic.


Great post. I hope you don’t mind a little light humor and irony (I think it’s irony).

Jamie Cheng

Great point Cody – Letting the person answer with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ shows you respect them and actually gives them a chance to respond.

And Dalai Lama, boost in twitter followers and zen quotes… sounds like a great story to me.


There is such awesome detail in this post ! Jon Morrow also talks about buying the products that the influencer offers. Of course, buy the ones that are useful to you (!) – I’ve found this has been a great way to get closer to them.

I never go in with the intention of a specific outcome – that’s the key – non-sleaziness !

Jamie Cheng

Definitely. Thanks for sharing Razwana.

Anh Nguyen

Thanks for sharing. Great tips 😀 !

Tom Southern

Fantastic collection of connection ideas here Jamie! Plenty of food for thought. What I love about these examples you give here is the creativity and imagination that the individuals put into them. That’s the Difference that makes people stand out and stops Connection Fatigue spreading.

This post is probably the best example of what “Do something different.” is all about.

Jamie Cheng

Thanks Tom.

Yeah these ideas are so much fun and packed with personality. Each person totally taking over the idea and making it uniquely their own.


Love this post!

Personally, I think it’s a far better idea to shy away from sending emails to get the attention of influencers – even my personal inbox gets dozens of random emails a day, and I shudder to think of what would happen for one of the “big boys” who simply don’t have the time and energy to respond to every single request would do with a random email from a stranger.

I much prefer the ideas that don’t required sending an email – in particular the use of social media (which many influencers DO pay more attention to) such as Twitter (I once got a random reply from Brian Clark of Copyblogger on Twitter!) , using “bespoke” interesting items in the mail (I remember The Blogess also posting about receiving one of these in the mail) and comment marketing.

To me comment marketing is a powerful yet often underutilized tool to get influencers attention (as someone who has written extensively about this area trust me I know!) It doesn’t have the restrictions that some social media sites have (e.g. Twitter and 140 characters) and is far more flexible. In addition, there are TONS of other benefits to comment marketing – for example it can help you attract leads and also display authority.

However, I’m going to disagree with the idea that you shouldn’t disagree with someone in your comments – if you disagree (respectfully) with an expert’s opinion, can show clearly WHY you do so, and then can provide evidence as to support your opinion, I think you should go right ahead!

My two cents anyway

Jamie Cheng

Great point on the emails Daryl.

With the disagreeing – you just don’t know how someone (and others) will interpret what you say.

Even if you’re 100% right and point that out as politely as possible – there’s not really a reward for you.

Especially if you’re pointing out in public that they are wrong.

Candace Talmadge

Great post packed with useful ideas that can spark more ideas and action. Please consider making an e-book out of it because this is valuable advice, and the e-book format makes it more portable. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Jamie Cheng

Thanks Candace – I think you can get an ebook version by clicking the ‘send to kindle’ button on the left to send to your e-reader.

Otherwise here’s a pdf version –


…or you can completely OCD and copy the ext to a word doc, tidy it up and make it look presentable and then safe it as a PDF.

This info was too good not to save!

Nica Mandigma

Thank you for sharing these templates! I really like Lewis’ and Andrew’s templates because they’re more in line with my personality. If you want to use these templates for your own outreach efforts, I think that it’s really important that you chose one that reflects who you are.

Jon Morrow’s tactic of “bring[ing] up a point they missed that would have made their post stronger” works so well when commenting on blog posts! I’ve been doing it when I was actively commenting on blogs around 3 years ago and it gave me a chance to work with some of the bloggers I really admire.

Jamie Cheng

Glad to share Nica – Great point on using the ones that suit you and awesome to hear that you’ve already got great results with commenting!


Excellent tips Jamie.

Especially the ones by Lewis Howes, Mixergy and Jon Morrow are instantly applicable.

I’ve personally opened many doors using a simple Thank you email and ending it with “I’d love to stay in touch”. Once the influencer responds, they are already open to staying in touch.

That means in future, after a few more exchanges, I can pitch a guest post, request an interview, form an affiliate relationship — the possibilities are endless. 🙂

Thanks for the great post.


Jamie Cheng

That’s genius Pooja. So simple too.

Nicholas Godwin

Great post here Jamie. Deeply insightful and extremely practical. All the points.

Business success, to a very large degree, is about the right relationships. Connecting to influencers isn’t something for later or something to be done on the side, it’s about the MOST IMPORTANT commitment any entrepreneur can make… to deliberately find and connect with people of authority s/he admires. The benefits are numerous and can be enormous too…

Goals can generally achieved faster and lessons, which would have been painfully expensive, learned with relative ease. Not to talk of the good feeling that comes with connecting with the kinds of people you’d rather be relating with.

I find it hard to see a missing piece in this post. Thanks again for making this gem available for FREE.

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