How to Get Powerful People on Your side

When approaching a powerful person to get them involved in a project, make sure there’s something in it for them. But what could that be? Get-It-Done Guy Stever Robbins helps you find ways they can benefit from being associated with you.

Stever Robbins
6-minute read
Episode #427

Offer the Most to Your Experts

Why does this experience rankle me so much? Because as someone contributing expertise, I expect to get something out of it too. So do the rest of the panelists. We actually have better things to do with our lives than contribute sound bites to publications that only exist because the internet has made it possible for even the least relevant, useless sludge to be dredged up and promoted as if it had a modicum of worth. (There are content websites out there whose editors can’t even write a sentence like that, much less appreciate its genius. But you, my intelligent, smart, insightful, and terribly good-looking listener, are not like that. You have taste. You have standards! Yay!)

Experts get involved in events like this because they expect to get something out of it. Here are some ways you can compensate an expert for helping you out.

Ego. Some guests like to appear because it makes them feel important. If so, flatter them! Give them top billing! Include a bio extolling their virtues. Explain how they’re great, they’re the best, and they’re a real winner. They’ll make your panel discussion amazing. Really great! Also, name your first-born child after them. You’d be amazed at how well that works.

Altruism. Some people have a message that does good for the world. They need enough space to give their message, and if their message is unique or unusual, they need a platform to explain why it’s worth listening to. A lot of people in the self-help world, for example, will help out because they genuinely care that their message helps people who are listening. Byron Katie falls into this category. For the first several years of her business, she spoke for free when people asked her, because her personal mission is to bring her work to the world. 

They just wanted links; they didn’t think about how to make it beneficial to the experts at all.

Reputation. If someone is building their reputation, find out how they want to be known and help them show up that way. My understanding of leadership is very different from the people putting together the article, judging by my reaction to their question. They could have highlighted my entry as a new, fresh approach to the subject, which would have given me a reputation as a leading thinker (get it? A “leading thinker” and I’m talking about leadership? I’m so clever, it’s a minor miracle the microphone doesn’t just burst into flames right now … OUCH!).

If you’re doing a multi-person event, offer your panelists the halo effect. A guest can get a reputation boost just by having them appear prominently with a few other, big-name guests. Being on a five person business panel with Richard Branson, Oprah Winfrey, Puff Daddy, and Cher Wang would be a big deal for me. As hard as it is to believe, being last in that line-up would actually boost my reputation. Being #30 in a lineup of 44, however, does not fill me with glee.

Lead generation. Often, you can only get someone to appear when they’re actively promoting something. Usually, a book. Or possibly a product, or a mailing list, or a cause. In that case, make sure your guest has a chance to give people a link, a short pitch, or a call-to-action that will lead to a sale, or a subscription.

Timing Is Everything

I rarely reveal what goes on behind the scenes at Get-it-Done Guy headquarters, but like intern MG, the characters Europa and Thomas have real-life inspiration. One of my favorite 1980s pop songs is Europa and the Pirate Twins by Thomas Dolby. When I heard that Thomas was going to be releasing his first new album in years, I added Europa and Thomas to the Get-it-Done Guy podcast in his honor. Europa is a character from the song, and Thomas is a nod to Thomas Dolby himself. I approached him for an interview, but he was too busy in production. Timing is everything—reach out during the publicity blitz itself!

You can often get big names to contribute something for free, be it an article or an appearance. Get the most out of it by really engaging deeply with your invitee. Help themget the most out of it by explicitly designing the event so they get ego, altruism, reputation, or lead generation out of the event. When you keep everyone’s goals in mind, everyone wins, and you’ll have a whale of a success.

This is Stever Robbins. Follow GetItDoneGuy on Twitter and Facebook. I run programs to help people have Extraordinary Lives and extraordinary careers. If you want to know more, visit SteverRobbins.com. You’ll also get a free copy of my secret book chapter on how to build relationships that help you succeed. 

Work Less, Do More, and Have a Great Life!

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.


About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins was the host of the podcast Get-it-Done Guy from 2007 to 2019. He is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT.