June 18, 2022

How to Build Relationships With the Biggest Creators On Social Media

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In today’s issue, I’m going to show you how to build real relationships with people you admire on social media.

To start networking like a superstar.

Trust me when I say this: Your online network determines your level of success on platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter, and largely in your business.

The bigger and stronger your online network is, the more likely you are to be successful in whatever endeavor you choose.

Unfortunately, 95% of people that attempt to build relationships online are focused only on themselves.

This mindset leads to the most common form of poor outreach: The “brain pick”.

Relationships aren’t about what you need. They must be mutually beneficial.

Think about the math behind the “brain pick” approach.

For example, I have 1,000,000 followers across LinkedIn and Twitter.

If just 2% of my followers reached out with a brain pick request, I’d have 20,000 DMs, and saying yes to a 15-minute call would mean spending 5,000 hours on Zoom.

I’d have to work 625 consecutive days for 8 hours per day, just doing “brain picks”. Impossible!

That’s why this strategy never, ever works. It’s why you’ll nearly always get ignored by busy people.

Let’s discuss a much better method.

Start by presenting yourself in a clear and compelling fashion

To begin building strong relationships, you need to give people a reason to be interested in you.

The easiest way to do that is to create a clear and compelling social media profile. This is your digital first impression, just like a first impression offline.

Take it from Arvid Kahl.

Here’s a quick cheat sheet:

  • Banner image: Represent your brand.
  • Headshot: Clean, polished, and professional.
  • Bio: What can someone expect? Why should they follow you?
  • Pinned Tweet: A thread that provides deeper context on who you are.
  • Featured (LinkedIn): Link to your website or resources that tell people more about you.

Glance over your own social profiles and ask yourself:

If I came across my own profile, would it be clear what I do, and would I be interesting enough to follow?”

If the answer is no, rework it.

Create a value-driven relationship approach

When you reach out to someone, imagine that you are one of those 7,000 people reaching out. So, how can you differentiate yourself?

You need an approach that is focused on providing value upfront without the expectation of immediate return.

There’s no “right” way to do this, but here’s an example of how I might approach it:

A relevant, specific compliment:

Reach out and tell the person something they’ve done that you specifically enjoy.

If you liked a specific podcast or article, tell them why you liked it, and what impact it had on you.

Give them a soft “out” i.e. “No need to reply, just wanted to share how it impacted me”.

Permissionless support:

Permissionless support is when you support someone without asking their permission. It’s extremely powerful.

You could write a blog post about them, share their content in your newsletter, or create a visual that supports their written work.

The latter is exactly what Sachin Ramje did with me on Twitter.

He took one of my Tweets and created a beautiful visual that he shared with his audience. Since he's a visual designer, he leveraged his unique skills to help start a relationship.

We’ve had a much more meaningful relationship ever since, and I’ve been a supporter of his work on Twitter (and vice-versa).

Introduce them to a meaningful connection:

The most powerful way to build a relationship is to connect two people who can help one another.

Keep an eye out for your favorite creators asking questions on Twitter or LinkedIn.

If you can help someone solve a problem with a connection, you leapfrog hundreds of other people trying to build that relationship.

Here’s a perfect example of Terry Rice reaching out to me after learning about a project I was hoping to kick off.

If you’re looking for an excellent primer on how to use DMs to build relationships online, read this Tweet thread from Dan Koe.

An example of this in action

One of the strongest online relationships I’ve formed over the past 3 years has been with Austin Belcak. We first exchanged messages in July of 2019 as up-and-coming creators.

Here’s how the relationship started and blossomed:

  • 2019: Austin DMs me and tells me I’m posting on LinkedIn wrong by putting links in my posts. (Thanks, Austin!) He also shares a PDF on copywriting that he enjoys.
  • 2019: I reach out to Austin and ask how I can support his business, and we agree to a regular Zoom cadence to chat.
  • 2020: I’m a guest on Austin’s LinkedIn Live event.
  • 2020: We exchange LinkedIn recommendations.
  • 2020: Austin intros me to a great podcast I become a guest on.
  • 2020: After learning Austin loves beer, I send him some local IPAs from Nashville.
  • 2021: Austin is a guest in my private community for a presentation.
  • 2022: We met in person for the first time.
  • 2023: Our families are getting set to hang out.

It’s been 4 years since our first DM exchange, and we’ve supported each other’s growth in many, many ways.

Austin now has over 1.2M followers on LinkedIn and I recently crossed 500,000 using my simple LinkedIn strategy. We've supported each other the whole way!

This is a really good example of building an organic relationship over time, and how you can work with people to grow together.

And believe it or not, we’ve still never met in person.

Update: We have!

That’s all for today.

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