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Getting Through the Gate: How to Connect with Popular People in Your Niche

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Everyone has a wall built around their personal life. Some people have very low walls, the type you can step over easily, while others build nearly impenetrable fortresses with gatekeepers stationed at every entrance. Reaching these people is difficult to say the least.

That doesn’t bode well for you if you’re trying to score an interview, like we recently discussed on this blog. Interviews are my favorite source for free content, but your best intentions to post this kind of content will fall flat if you can’t find anyone to say yes.

Now, of course, you have people that respond quickly to interview requests and are happy to accommodate you. But as you try to reach the more popular people in your niche, you’ll probably notice a decreasing likelihood of response. Some people don’t even take the time to send a negative response. No matter how you spin your interview request, the most popular people in your niche need you to go through their gatekeepers if you want a slice of their time.

Traditional Gatekeepers

You probably have already thought about the more traditional types of gatekeepers a person might have. Virtual assistants, secretaries, and other lower-level employees are often the people answering the emails and setting up interviews. These people get dozens – sometimes even hundreds – of requests every day, so you can see how it would get overwhelming pretty quickly, even if answering emails is their main job.

So how can you stand out?

  • Do your research and call them by name. Gatekeepers like to be acknowledged as important too.
  • Keep your email short and to the point. Longer emails that look like more work are more likely to get put in the “I’ll answer it later” pile.
  • Be specific with your request. Don’t say, “I’d love to connect with Mr. Important about an interview at his convenience.” Instead, say, “I’d love to interview Mr. Important via Skype about his recent comments on Twitter at some point next week.”
  • Be flexible. “If Skype is not possible, email would work too!”
  • Remember to say thank you. You’d be surprised how many people forget this point.

You should definitely follow up if your first email doesn’t get a response – but you have to give the person a little time. Don’t be a burden, DMing on Twitter to say, “Did you get my email” an hour after sending it. Wait at least a week; then, if you haven’t heard back, send a friendly reminder.

Non-Traditional Gatekeepers

Don’t forget that you can look beyond the traditional gatekeepers as well. Other “gatekeepers” include:

  • Personal friends
  • Coworkers
  • People who have worked on join projects with the person in the past

I will caution, however: do NOT get chummy with these people because you want the hook up. Not only is it rude, but people can usually smell when they are being used. If you’re already friends with a friend of the person you’re trying to interview, though, it never hurts to ask! Just make sure you do so respectfully and remember to return the favor.

And remember a conference can serve as a “gatekeeper” as well. At a conference like BlogWorld, you can connect with experts in your field without the barrier of email. So don’t be afraid to set up interviews with these people when attending BlogWorld. Many are happy to carve out some time to meet you. You just have to ask!

Allison Boyer freelance writer and content marketing consultant. She also runs the food blog The PinterTest Kitchen with her mom and sister. You can follow her shenanigans on Twitter (@allison_boyer) or contact her at allisonmboyer@gmail.com.


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