Last week I was hanging out in our Fire Nation Elite Private Facebook group, and I decided to do something that I haven’t done before: I wrote a post that said:
“Hey Elites! Just wondering what I can help you with today. Do you have a question, a struggle, or 1 thing that’s holding you back right now that I can help with?”
Building, maintaining and leveraging relationships
I got a lot of responses.
It’s a good thing that this is exactly what Fire Nation Elite is for: providing support, feedback, advice and accountability within the Tribe!
I was actually very excited by all of the responses to my post, and decided what better way to provide value to the Tribe AND pay it forward to all of Fire Nation than to share my answers right here on the blog?
“How do we leverage the great relationships we’re forming online, like with guests who we interview for our podcast? In our minds, it’s a shame that we have these positive, intimate conversations with people when they’re at their greatest and most vulnerable, and then we don’t talk to them again outside of letting them know their interview is live.
What are some ideas on how to collaborate, or even just keep those relationships alive and kindled until something does come up where you feel the relationship could be leveraged on either end?”
Michael and Marie, SOLID question, and an important thing to focus on as a podcast host.
John and I have talked about the importance of building, maintaining and then leveraging relationships in a lot of places – right here on the blog, in our weekly email newsletters, and even in our Fire Path Series.
We truly believe building relationships is the core of helping you gain momentum and make genuine connections within your industry, both of which have huge potential for growing your business. But it’s not about how to leverage the relationship until the relationship is actually built, so let’s start from the beginning…
My top 9 tips on building, maintaining and leveraging relationships
Tip #1: Be intentional
Yes, it starts even before you invite the guest on your show.
Don’t just invite people on your show so that you have an episode to publish – that is not adding value to your audience, and that is also not adding value for you OR your guest.
What’s your goal with your podcast (why do you have a podcast?), and how can you ensure you meet that goal with a win-win-win on every episode (win for your audience, win for you, win for your guest)?
For example, at EntrepreneurOnFire we are interested in interviewing inspiring and successful entrepreneurs – our goal is to share their journey with our audience so our Fire Nation Faithful can take their own entrepreneurial leap. Therefore, we don’t invite guests on the show who haven’t started their entrepreneurial journey yet, since that wouldn’t help us meet our goal with a win-win-win.
Tip #2: Do your homework
I don’t have a TON of experience being interviewed on other peoples’ podcasts, but I have done about a dozen interviews. One thing is for certain: I feel a strong connection and very special when the host knows about me not just professionally, but also personally.
This is as simple as finding out where the person lives, whether or not they’ve taken a vacation recently, if they have a family, what their favorite TV show is, or any number of things. Assuming that those you invite on your podcast have a social profile – somewhere – or a website that has an “about” page, it’s not hard to spend even just 5 minutes doing your homework in exchange for creating an instant connection and making your guest feel special.
Tip #3: Be yourself
People connect with people. Stop trying to be perfect, stop reading a script, and stop freaking out. All you have to do is be yourself.
Tip #4: Pre-interview
Set your guest up for success. In doing so, they’ll know you genuinely care about them and respect their time.
The interview is about them, and so you should be sure you make your guest feel comfortable by prepping them appropriately. Don’t over-think it; it’s as simple as saying 4 things:
- Have you made sure to turn off all of your notifications, including cell phone?
- I start off every interview by saying / asking…
- The interview should run about 25 minutes, does that work with your schedule?
- Do you have any questions for me about the format?
Tip #5: Be engaging
I repeat, stop reading a script! This comes with practice, and perhaps in the beginning you will be looking at your notes to help you through the interview – that’s okay. But really practice your interview skills by engaging with your guest; start to become more and more daring with each new interview.
What do I mean?
Make it a conversation versus a Q & A session. If you’re so focused on what you’re going to say next, then you’re not going to be listening to your guest, and therefore, you’re not going to be able to engage in the conversation with them.
This isn’t about you being perfect on air – it’s about connecting with your guest and your audience. This is where the foundation of your relationship is built, so make it a strong foundation.
Tip #6: Post-interview
Don’t just say, “Thanks, chat soon!” You definitely want to be respectful of their time, but if they have a minute to chat, then that’s PRIME TIME for you to really solidify the relationship.
Take a look back at your interview: what surprised you about the person? What attracted you about the person? What types of connections do you have in common (or even common interests) that you didn’t know you had before the interview started?
Most importantly, how can you help your guest moving forward?
This might not come to mind right away, but that’s why we have Step #7…
Tip #7: Connect & engage
Connect with your guest after the interview. There are countless ways to do this, and the obvious one (hopefully) is sending them a Thank You note for being on your show. Another no brainer? Sending them an email the day their interview goes live and asking them to share with their audience, too!
Other ways to connect outside of your email inbox might include “liking” their Facebook page / profile and requesting them as a Friend, following them on Twitter, connecting on LinkedIn, subscribing to their email list, visiting their website…
That’s not the end. Once you connect with them, start engaging! See something you resonate with on their social feed? Leave a comment, share it with your own audience, or even give it a +1!
If social media doesn’t do it for them, then how about another email a week or so later that includes an answer to the last question in Tip #6: How can you help your guest moving forward?
You just gained a WEALTH of knowledge about your guest during your interview with them. It might have been knowledge directly related to their industry or niche, or it could have been knowledge related to them as a person. How might you use that knowledge to help them?
- They mentioned wanting to learn more about – and potentially to start – a podcast
Woah… Podcasters’ Paradise alert! :) Or, you might even direct them to the resources that helped you when you first started out (if their interest is something you have experience with).
- They are researching new product ideas
What industry or niche are they in? Did anything you learned about them or their audience during your interview spark any ideas that you might like to share with them? Do you know of any tools that might help them with researching this product idea? Do you know someone else who has already been through this process who you might connect them with?
- They are attending X conference next Fall, and it will be their first one
Will you be at the same conference? If so, set up an in-person meet up so you can meet face-to-face. You’re not going to be there? Well, if you know any of the speakers who are “must sees”, give them that recommendation. Know someone else who will be there? Maybe a connection can be made there that will help those two out in terms of just knowing someone at the conference.
Tip #8: Be an ambassador for your guest
What did you learn about the things your guest has going on right now, and how can you help support them?
- They’re working on a book
Awesome! Ask them when the book will be out so you can help share it on social media! Or, if you know of a certain point in the process they’re struggling with, what recommendations or connections can you make?
- They’ve just launched a new website
That’s really cool. Perhaps you could recommend your favorite website plugins that may also be of interest to them. Also, do they have a cool message that you’d like to share with your audience? Send a Tweet about it!
- Do they have a business, or even a certain project they’re involved in that might resonate with your audience, too?
Collaborate to find out more information and see how you can help spread the word.
Tip #9: Don’t stop
Unless your guest comes back to you and says something like, “Hey, leave me alone.”, don’t stop reaching out to them when it’s appropriate.
I’m not promoting being obnoxious, I’m simply suggesting that you build, maintain and leverage these relationships with some intention and purpose. Relationships don’t build themselves.
Have you been communicating back and forth with your guest, and you feel there is something they might be able to help YOU with? It might be a simple introduction to someone they know, or it could be asking them to take a look at something you’re working on and provide their feedback.
Be careful with your approach; from the incredible Gary V we all know and love: Give, Give, Give – and only then, take. That said, when the time is right, just ask.
Michael and Marie, I love your question, and I hope that some of the tips I’ve shared here will help you with building, maintaining and leveraging relationships with your podcast guests.
Relationships don’t build themselves. This is absolutely a process – not an event.