A few weeks ago, I received a LinkedIn message from a startup entrepreneur who asked me “A CRAZY question. How do you contact Richard Branson?”.
Since I help my clients develop stakeholder relationships with investors and partners, I thought to myself “Let me publish an article on that topic instead of just responding to that email with a short answer”.
Why Would You Want to Meet Richard Branson?
That’s the most important question to answer because this will determine if you actually can meet Richard Branson or not. Let me explain.
The more influential and busy a person is you want to meet with, the better the answer to that question has to be.
The reason why most people will never meet somebody like Richard Branson is not because it’s so hard to meet him, but because their reasons are too weak and therefore they never get confident and creative enough to just giving it a try.
Richard Branson is probably one of the most effective people on this planet with running more than 400 companies. Therefore, you better have a really good reason you want to meet with him.
I recently read this great article from Stacey Ferreira, who got to meet Richard Branson in Miami for cocktails. She had no intention of selling him on anything. She probably knew at the back of her mind that he would be a great investor and ambassador for her startup. However, the intention of the meeting was not to persuade him to make an investment.
So, why do YOU want to meet Richard Branson?
The thing is, not every person on this planet is supposed to meet Richard Branson. Just because he’s a cool billionaire does not mean you have to meet with him.
Have You Done Your Homework?
Once you are clear about your intentions of why you want to meet Richard Branson and your reason why is strong enough, it’s time to do your homework.
I’ve already done most of that homework for you in this article on LinkedIn.
It’s very likely that you did not just wake up one day and decided that meeting Richard Branson was a good idea. You have probably been following him and reading about him for a while but never considered that meeting him would actually be possible.
In order to maximize your chances to meet Richard Branson, it’s essential you do your research. Here’s a few things to consider.
Who is Richard Branson excited to meet with?
Why does Richard Branson want to meet people like this?
How can you become one of these people?
There are certain people Richard Branson is already meeting with excitement. If you read Stacey’s article, you probably realized that he is excited to meet startup entrepreneurs who build something significant with an immense passion. He’s also a big philanthropist (not surprisingly since he spends most of his time on Virgin Unite).
All this information is essential in order to assess if it even makes sense that you and Richard Branson meet.
How to Get Richard Branson’s Attention
After you have done your homework, it comes down to closing the gap between “He doesn’t even know I exist” to “He knows my name”.
Joe Polish, the founder of Genius Network, has done this by becoming the single largest contributor to Virgin Unite. Joe has organized several high-end retreats on Neckar Island with members from the Genius Network and contributed a large part of that revenue to Virgin Unite.
Now, there are other ways to do this if you don’t have a few millions to spare. At the end of the day, it all comes down to creating value. This can take many different forms. Joe Polish did this by making large donations to the Virgin division that Richard Branson cares most about.
Stacey Ferreira did this by sharing her story at the meetup in Miami and demonstrating that she is building something significant that matches with Richard Branson’s vision.
You can start with something as simple as leaving an insightful and thought-provoking comment on one of his articles on LinkedIn or Virgin.com. Or you can start a discussion on Twitter next time he shares something.
This is not a one step process. The more influential the person is you want to meet, the more care and creativity you need to put into the planning of your actions.
How to Create Value for VIPs (Very Influential People)
Some of the entrepreneurs I talk to often lack the confidence to believe they could ever add enough value to somebody like Richard Branson. The thing is, that assumption is plain wrong.
Sure, if you’re not a millionaire yet, you may not be able to contribute millions of dollars to Virgin Unite like Joe Polish did.
However, every person on this planet has a unique perspective. You started your venture for a reason. This reason is the driving force that gets you through the toughest times as a startup entrepreneur and it’s the reason why you come out smarter and stronger on the other end. This reason is based on a specific belief.
Maybe it’s the belief that children around the world deserve to have access to education. Maybe it’s the belief that we need to become a multi-planetary species in order to ensure humanity’s survival long term. Or maybe it’s the belief that entrepreneurship is the panacea for humanity’s grand challenges.
Whatever that belief is, this is the umbrella that covers all your unique perspectives.
Let me give you an example. One of my biggest beliefs is that entrepreneurship is the panacea for humanity’s grand challenges and that’s the reason I work with startup entrepreneurs who advance humanity.
Now, under that umbrella, there are many other beliefs and perspectives. For example, I believe we can solve unemployment only through entrepreneurship and not by giving everybody a fix minimum salary no matter if they work or not. That’s not a solution, that’s communism.
A few weeks ago, I wanted to get a meeting with a very successful CEO and Investor in Switzerland, simply because I was inspired by his story and I felt we share some of the same beliefs.
So I reached out to him by stating my belief about solving unemployment and said “I’d love to exchange some thoughts about solving unemployment through entrepreneurship and why jobs are at the edge of extinction the way we know them”.
The result was an immediate YES to my offer for lunch. Here’s the full story.
The bottom line is that you can create value for somebody by simply offering them your perspective in context to theirs. This is the secret to my clients’ success who get to meet with very hard-to-reach CEOs and Investors.
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