Growth hacking is above all a mindset. Having a deep understanding of how people interact with each other in today’s digital world and making use of some psychological tricks is a powerful asset to create a discussion from nowhere. It can increase your chances to get an answer and might definitely lead you to great opportunities in your life. At the end of the day, a lot of people (including myself) like to believe that it’s not only about “what you know” but “who you know”. And from my experience with hundreds of startups, I will add that it is not the smarter who win but the more informed.
#1. Use Clarity as an excuse to reach an expert.
Clarity is an online community where you can plan a call with an expert. It’s a great place to get a specific piece of information that you can trust for your decisions. I previously talked about it in this article, but it includes people like Eric Ries, Brian Balfour or Dan Martell. Of course, you have to pay and it can be quite expensive, but I hope you are familiar with the quote “when you pay peanuts you get monkeys“. 😉
I was with an entrepreneur last week who needed to know something very specific about Expedia. What he did, was to use Clarity’s search engine to find out people who previously worked there. He only had to plan a call to get what he wanted.
#2. Use Twitter to ask the CEO for a demo about the product they are building.
Some people are very active on Twitter. Take for instance, Ryan Hoover, send him a tweet about something you want to know, he will probably tweet back and answer (and there is a reason for that, he discovered that the best users for Product Hunt usually do not come from paid channels but are friends with the people who are already part of the community). Twitter is a crazy place to provoke a bunch of opportunities out of nowhere. It’s a kind of cocktail party where no system can forbid you to have balls and to go talking to someone. Here are two cool stories by the way, that recently happened to me.
Me and my teammate Côme Courteault were looking for a way to have a rigorous software to manage our growth experiments at TheFamily. After some researches, we stumbled upon Canvas (look at this video on YouTube for more), an easy-to-understand website to keep track of all your experiments in a snap. The thing was in Beta but we needed an invite quickly. I ended to tweet Sean Ellis to get one and I will tell you what a great seller does, he gives you what you want in exchange of a demo (it’s all about activation). This is how I got myself in a Skype call with Sean Ellis and I can tell you that only in a few minutes of conversations, I learnt tremendous things (which is priceless in this information economy). What’s funny is that all started with a simple tweet that took me something like twenty seconds to write.
But the contrary can happen too, and that is why you should have an active account on Twitter. One day, one guy reached me with a tweet to know if I was available for some advices. I was in a good mood and my agenda was not very busy at the time so I agreed. Let me be clear, that is one of the best decisions I have made and I often go to his airbnbs all around Paris to chat about the fascinating things that happens within the startup and seduction world. It makes me think about the first advice I would tell a kid: if you want to have opportunities in this life, you better hustle and be an opportunity for others (which leads me to the next hack).
#3. Share your knowledge by keeping a blog up-to-date.
Being transparent is one of the best qualities someone can possess. I deeply believe in the power of sharing and it is one of things that drive my actions on a daily basis (I recently discovered an experiment that Buffer is conducting: they are sharing publicly all their metrics including the salaries of everyone). When you see something interesting or just came up with a cool idea, don’t be afraid to let the world knows about it. It can lead you to surprising roads.
Here is how I got my last two last jobs. I dropout college three years ago (I have a lot of respect for people who choose to take this path and especially in France, so if you are asking yourself any question about all of that, feel free to reach me). What I discovered that it is in the adversity, out of your comfort zone, that you end up to really find yourself as well as what you want to do with your life. It can make you move forward faster that you could ever dream of. But to go back to the story, I was in my room without any furnitures (long story), watching every episode I could find on GrowthHackerTV. My goal was to understand and screen all of these guys who were building incredible companies by starting from scratch. I ended up to summarize every interview and to share them on the website. After a few months (I think it was after the seventieth episode), Bronson Taylor sent me a quick email for a Skype call where he gave me a simple task: editing the calls he was giving to his guests. Then, I had to put them online so he can validate them. Sometimes (if not always), you have to show what you worth without asking for anything in return. As one smart guy once told me, pay it forward. 😉
With all this knowledge, I decided to open this blog for fun and to share my personal view about growth. One day, I shared an article on a Facebook group and Hugo Amsellem came to me to give a lecture at TheFamily. I tried my best (I think I rehearsed probably ten times) and got hired to my biggest surprise two days later. So here I am, a little guy of 20 years old who did not have a lot of experiences (I had monumentally failed two startups at the time), giving advices for more than 200 startups about what they should do to grow in addition to talk every morning at Koudetat Growth Hacking for people paying more than $3,000 to assist. Clearly, be transparent and share. I hope it is obvious for everyone now.
#4. Use an opener in real life.
Once in the real life, being connected 20 hours a day is not an excuse to lack of creativity when you are trying to initiate a conversation with someone. I am passionate about pickup artists and in my humble opinion, I think that every human being on this earth should at least take a look at what they do. Whether it is a man or a woman here are three openers I really like that work in many situations:
- If the guy/lady is smoking: “Come on, you promised me you would quit ;)”.
- If the guy/lady is looking at a phone: “You cannot help yourself, you are always on your phone. I was sure you were popular on Tinder. ;)”.
- If the guy/lady is drinking: “It is nice to meet an alcoholic who does not want to remain anonymous ;)”.
And then with a simple smile, you ask him if he/she is fine, if he/she is spending a good time at the party and follow up on a few stories. What is great with that mindset is that you can try to pitch your product later on inside the conversation. It definitely feels less invasive as you took the time to build proximity in advance. It is a more efficient strategy to catch the attention of someone and to get better results as your frame is strong.
#5. Guess someone’s email address to cold email.
The more popular and busy the target is, the harder it will be to get an answer from him. Our mailboxes are overcrowded and even if most people are looking at them every day, you better have a great title with a short and clear message to attract the attention. For people wondering, I personally have no opinion about the efficiency of emailing him rather on his business account than on his personal one. I think it depends of who you are trying to reach as a lot of decisions makers (like bosses and partners) usually have someone to manage their professional inbox. Nonetheless, here are a few tricks to guess any email.
– You could try to test a few combinations on Rapportive to see if some linkedin profile appears on the side. It is one of the best ways to make sure that you really found a valid email and that it belongs to the correct recipient.
– You could use Mailtester to ask the SMTP servers of his company (or gmail) that an email exists for this address.
– You could register to his newsletter if the guy has a blog and see from what email the confirmation is sent. It is a hack I usually use: two months ago, I needed to get answers about something on Quora. I just took the time to find angel investors who had a blog, I registered to their newsletter, got their email from the confirmation message, and told them that I was a huge fan about their writings (proximity) and that today I needed a little help.
– You could check the whois if the guy has a website. You may even come up with a phone number.
Of course, there is a few best practices to increase your chances to get an answer. One of the big mistake to do not follow up until you get a result (at least two times, let’s say after 3 days and after 10 days) to the first email you sent (so as to not create a second conversation where he will have to make a research to find the first message). Of course, if you still do not get any answer after the third tentative, don’t bother, he probably won’t answer. Leave him alone and use another of the tricks listed here. 🙂
#6. Use Messenger to increase your chances to get an answer.
Since the beginning of November, Facebook has rolled out Message Request with Messenger. Basically, this means that you become able to send a message to pretty much everyone and that he will get a notification that someone is trying to contact him. As a result of these changes, they removed the “Other Folder” that was only accessible from the web, and are enabling you to accept or ignore new requests without the requestor knowing you’ve read their message.
Keep in mind, that it is fantastic news, but you will still have to be very relevant in your first message if you are hoping your recipient to answer. By using in parallel the Facebook Graph (make sure the language of your Facebook account is set to English US), you can target efficiently and open the dialogue.
#7. Add him on Linkedin and export his email address.
That’s probably something well-known, but I had to explain it. On Linkedin, you can basically export the email address of every connection you have. It is quite easy (as shown below) and can lead you to find the complicated personal email address one can have.
What you can do is coupling the Facebook Graph and Linkedin altogether. One powerful thing is to target specific people on Facebook and add them later on Linkedin (as most people accept all friend requests there). Then, you have two possibilities: either you send them an inbox Linkedin message or you simply export their address to directly interact through their personal mailbox (better response rate). It is possible to automate that experiment by adding and using the Bing API to avoid the restriction with the Linkedin search engine (too many search requests will get you banned).
#8. Find to which Facebook Event the target is going.
Okay I agree, it’s kind of creepy, but why not? If you noticed that your target is going to a party after the web summit because he joined a public Facebook Event (check the calendar view), who prevents you to go there too? Of course, you will have to be friend with him even though you could retrieve places he previously went with the Facebook Graph with the following query: “places that x-person visited“. The same mindset also goes for Meetup Groups or any other places where people indicate where they go.
#9. Get introduced by someone you have in common.
Facebook and Linkedin are both networks where you can easily find if you have a mutual friend or connection with someone. In addition to being a key criteria to get accepted, it’s also a smart strategy to be introduced in the real world. A simple email can often be enough to plan a meeting. I’ve introduced others and been introduced to some hard-to-reach people by email and it helped me to save time and hustle. Know who know the ones you know and try to have the habit to check that every time you need to talk to someone. It creates a climate of proximity from the first seconds and you feel less like a stranger.
#10. Cold call the company to find the decision maker.
If you don’t really know who the decision maker is, you could try to cold call the company and ask directly. Make an educated guess about who oversees the relevant initiative (probably using Linkedin). Say more than 2-3 sentences without asking a question and engage your recipient in a dialogue as quickly as possible. Have a script written out for both the call and the voicemail. It can be smart to call someone in sales as they are always willing to pick up the phone and chat.
What if they say no? End with something like: “That’s okay. Is there anyone that might know who the right person?”. Remember the goal is to get some name at this point in order to have a referral for a later use. Another tactic is to call asking for someone that used to be the stakeholder.
You: “Hey can I speak to X?”.
Her/Him: “I’m sorry but they no longer work here”.
You: “Ahh. Well I know they used to manage the [relevant initiative]… any chance you know who their replacement is?”.
Why do this works? You are signaling familiarity which separates you from the bucket of people who are calling blindly. You could also use Linkedin to get the past employees. From my experience, it is easier to get a specific piece of information from them as they no longer work for the company.
Yes, the Internet is a great place to get a multitude of opportunities to reach someone. Remember to build proximity as soon as you can (use common interests you may both have: if you both lived in Switzerland, don’t start the interaction by talking about business) and check if no one could introduced you to feel less like a stranger.
I will end on a last hack to invite myself to a wedding: just say that you are with the band. No one really speaks to the band as they are playing all the night and usually, nobody knows them deeply enough as they have been hired just for the event (I mean no deep link with the family). 😉
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