If you had 15 minutes to impress a celebrity who could give your career the breakthrough you've been hoping for, here's what you should do.
If you've been following the 2009 JobMob Guest Blogging Contest, you saw that Israel Weisser won the sweet prize package containing a 15-minute conversation with @garyvee, aka That Crazy Awesome Wine Videoblogging Guy, multimillion dollar businessman and personal branding success story, Gary Vaynerchuk.
How should Israel make the most of their upcoming conversation? How should you make the most of such a celebrity interview if you were lucky enough to get one?
By planning the call in advance with maximum intent to reach their goals.
How to plan your celebrity interview
1) Research the celebrity
Learn their likes and raves, dislikes and hates so that you best target your interviewee. Take notes, study them and keep them handy when it's time for the call so that you can avoid any faux pas while steering the conversation in a way that's very memorable for the celebrity.
As you study the celebrity, think about potential goals for your call and consider relevant discussion topics where you can make the most striking impression.
If you're already familiar with the celebrity, go on to Step 2.
2) Decide on a goal for the conversation
Now that you know the celebrity in depth, choose your goal for the conversation.
Do you want something specific from the celebrity such as a myth-busting insider tip? Are you hoping to start some kind of relationship? Often, one goal is to simply get the celebrity to continue the conversation beyond the allotted time frame.
Choose a goal that you know the celebrity can help you with directly and that is related to something the celebrity is passionate about, even evangelistic about.
Keep in mind that this might be a once in a lifetime opportunity. Don't aim low!
3) Plan the call
Now that you have goals for the call, plan the call so that you are most likely to achieve those goals. For example, if the celebrity prefers informal chats, plan for a laid-back call. Otherwise, prepare for more of a business-type call.
To make the most of this audition, you want the celebrity to love this call. Use your research about them to make sure that every part of the call aims for what the celebrity is passionate about.
4) Prepare any content that you will refer to during the call
If you have a memorable video or audio clip that only lasts a few minutes, asking the celebrity to see it or hear it might be more impressionable than just talking about it, and could make the clip go viral if it has the desired effect.
5) Send a reminder email 3 days in advance
Even if this email might only be seen by the celebrity's “people”, it doesn't take much effort to send but it might be the difference between having the conversation or not.
6) Use social media to hype the call
If both you and the celebrity are active on social media, mention your upcoming call on those sites. If you're lucky, the celebrity will see it and might choose to engage you even before the call. You can also use your network of contacts as a sounding board. Maybe their suggestions will be even better than what you had planned.
7) Have a short elevator pitch ready
You only have 15 minutes of talk time, so you need a quick way to introduce yourself that's clear, easy to retain and that (again) ties in to what the celebrity likes (which might not be what the celebrity is known for, and that's ok).
If you're tempted to start the call in a less conventional way – like singing a song the celebrity likes, if you're a singer – you'd better have done your homework to be as sure as possible that your gamble will work, else you risk setting the wrong tone for the entire discussion.
8) Answer at least one question the celebrity asked recently
You could do this at the beginning of the call to get the celebrity's attention by immediately giving them some value, or near the end of the call, to finish on a high note. If the question is directly linked to your goal and is something you can answer with much expertise, you could make it the basis for your entire call.
To find the question, use social media, ask their PR assistant, read recent articles where they were quoted, etc.
9) Don't waste any time on chitchat
Get to the point, the clock is ticking.
Copywriters write with the idea that if you like one line of their text, you'll read the next and so on until you've read everything. Your words should aim for the same impact as you weave through all the things you need to say in the call.
10) Close with a thank you and follow-up information
Don't waste time asking the celebrity to write down your contact information or to retain your website address. Rather, send a thank you message, possibly with a gift, where you give your contact information.
Just as importantly- follow up with anything you promised the celebrity during the call.
Bonus tip: Start now
If you can apply these tips to your blog or online profiles, do it as soon as possible. Even if you may already have missed out on the chance to impress certain influential people who came across your web presence in the past, sooner or later others will arrive again, so you need to be prepared. Get started now.
I originally published a version of this article on the terrific Personal Branding Blog.