Networking is key to success in any field, but it’s especially true if you want to become a content creator or build an audience with the hopes of becoming an influencer.
If other influential people know who you are, they’ll be more likely to promote your content, channels, and profiles to their audience.
Most would-be influencers go about this the wrong way. They’re impatient. They lack the ability to delay their gratification to make meaningful connections down the road.
The Dream 100 strategy can help you build a highly influential network by playing the long game.
How the strategy works
Russell Brunson popularized the Dream 100 strategy, and it helped him build a software company that nets him more than 100 million dollars each year. He used content marketing to promote his software, and the networking strategy he created helped him grow his content empire—which helped him grow his business.
Here’s how the strategy works:
You want to target 100 places where your dream audience hangs out and build relationships to eventually get your content, products, and services in front of them.
Step 1: Choose which platform to build your first Dream 100
It’s difficult to be everywhere all at once, so choosing the right platform to promote your work is important. You can choose a popular social media platform, a popular set of websites, or any other collection of people or places with your desired audience.
It makes the most sense to start with the platform where you want to build your first content pillar. (This will also tie in with a strategy we’ll discuss later to ensure you’re someone worth working with down the road.)
There are many different considerations to make:
- The type of product or service you sell: If you publish books, it makes sense to choose a Dream 100 strategy that focuses on writing.
- The niche you’re in: Some niches are more popular on other platforms than others. If you want to create content to sell fishing gear, you might not find as much broad appeal on LinkedIn, but educational videos on YouTube might work, or writing guest posts on websites dedicated to outdoor activities.
- Your skill and comfort level: You want to go with a platform that focuses on the style of content you feel most comfortable creating. Some people are terrified of going on video but have no problem writing.
Step 2: Build your Dream 100 list
Your list should include potential collaborators who:
- Have a similar-sized audience to yours
- Have an audience that’s a little bit bigger than yours
- Have massive audiences
The category you put each person in will determine how to build the relationship:
- If they have a similar-sized audience, they will be receptive to pitches.
- If they have a slightly bigger audience, they can be convinced with the right pitch.
- If they have a massive audience, you will have to spend a long time building the relationship before making the ask.
I remember in one of his books, Russell talked about wanting to work with Tony Robbins. He waited years before making the ask, but it paid off big-time when he did.
Step 3: Commit to creating content on your Dream 100 platform
Russell suggests committing to creating content daily on your chosen platform. This will help you grow an audience of your own. It’ll also help you get in front of other people’s audiences by using your show to bring on guests.
- Figure out what kind of show you want to create (e.g., a daily blog, video, or podcast).
- Use the show to document your process, test out material, and see what your audience responds to.
- Build relationships with your Dream 100 by asking them to be on your show.
- You will get more views on your shows, which will help you sell more of your products because your guests will share with their network.
The more influential your show becomes, the easier to get bigger and higher-profile guests. Take Joe Rogan, for example. These days, he can reach out to a famous person he has no prior relationship with and ask them to be on the show. They’ll say yes because they know they will get millions of eyeballs on their brands.
The bigger your show gets, the easier it will be to make asks, and the more it will benefit both parties.
- Begin by building the Dream 100 list.
- Next, start to produce your show regularly for a handful of episodes.
- Make asks to the people at your level first.
- Make asks to the people slightly above second.
- Wait a while before asking the big names to come on your show.
Here’s the beauty of the process: Once you get one name to come on your show, you have social proof to get more people on your show. When you make the next pitch, you can say that [insert influencer] has already been on your show. Influencers are aware of each other, so this will make the process easier.
Also, if you get one influencer to say yes and get them to like you, they will refer you to other influencers.
You can use the daily show strategy, or you can build a Dream 100 of people you want to collaborate with in other ways than having them come on as a guest to your show.
- Affiliate deals: I’ve asked influencers to let me promote my products for their audience in exchange for a commission.
- Guest posts: This is where you present information to their audience (e.g., writing a post for their blog, shooting a video for their channel, or writing an email on their newsletter).
- Swaps: Both of you can promote each other’s content and products to your audiences.
There are tons of different outcomes you can achieve and strategies for harnessing the power of the Dream 100.
Some basic rules apply to all applications of the strategy:
- Create the content on your own, even if it’s not a daily show.
- Have a mix of different audience sizes on your list.
- The ultimate goal is to make some sort of ask.
Now, let’s talk about how to network with influencers in your Dream 100.
Gary Vaynerchuk has this concept for networking on social media called jab, jab, jab, right hook.
In short, you spend most of your time showing love and giving value. Then, every once in a while, you make an ask. He talks about using this strategy for making asks to your audience, but you can use this strategy to network, too.
Make sure you “throw a couple of jabs” before making an ask.
You will have to jab more when:
- You have a small audience
- You don’t have a strong offer
- Your reputation isn’t as strong
Take me, for example. I’ve successfully cold-pitched people to co-host webinars to sell my product. A cold pitch means I reached out to them without ever having a prior relationship.
This only works because:
- The incentive for them to connect with me is money.
- The product I sell teaches how to write on a platform I have 95,000 followers on (tons of social proof).
- In general, I have established a name for myself.
Often, though, most of the people I reach out to are people I have communicated with at least a little bit over the years.
Here’s how you jab:
Proper jabs are thoughtful:
- Leave a personalized and specific comment. Go above and beyond saying “great post” in the comments.
- Add value to the conversation (e.g., leaving a quote Tweet on someone else’s Tweet expanding on their idea. I have picked up many verified followers this way.).
- When you send a DM to show love, be specific. Talk about a sentence they said in the middle of one of their podcasts from six months ago instead of watching the first five minutes of their most recent show and commenting on that.
- When you mention them in your content, thoughtfully tag them when you share them online.
- Write reviews for their products and go in-depth about what you like.
In short, the bar for being thoughtful is low. Most people are impatient and don’t take the time to build and nurture relationships. They spam tons of influencers instead of taking the time to write personalized messages.
Take the time to jab correctly, then you can make the ask.
Rules for making the ask
Eventually, you can make an ask or a series of asks.
Sometimes it makes sense to go for a bigger ask right away like I sometimes do with my affiliate promotions.
Other times, it might make sense to make a smaller ask, like asking them to share a piece of content or throw you a retweet.
With bigger influencers, making small asks first is smart because of The Ben Franklin Effect:
In other words:
To build rapport, don’t do a favour, rather ask for one.
This comes from a story where Ben Franklin asked someone who disliked him if he could borrow a book, which led to them becoming friends.
Now, this doesn’t mean that making an ask will work, but if it does work, they’ll be more likely to say yes to future asks because of commitment consistency bias:
If someone did you one favor, they’re likely to do another because you’re the type of person they give favors for. You can amplify this effect by making sure the outcomes are desirable.
An example of how this might work:
- You leave a handful of comments on someone’s Tweets.
- You send them a DM thanking them for their work.
- Randomly, you send them links to cool and interesting things they might like or that will help their business.
- You ask for a RT.
- Months into the relationship, you DM them asking them to come on your show.
- You ask for referrals to other influencers to come on your show.
- You ask to do a webinar in front of their audience to sell their product.
- At a certain point, they might naturally share what you have to offer constantly because you’re friends.
When it comes to making an ask, in general, always take these rules into consideration:
- Ask yourself what’s in it for them: There has to be some benefit or reward for them collaborating with you.
- Make the ask easy to say yes to: Make them do as little work as possible to say yes.
- Keep the pitch short and sweet: Nix excessive small talk. Sprinkle in some social proof and make the ask while talking about the ROI of saying yes.
- Never assume a yes: Avoid saying phrases like “Thanks in advance” or “Looking forward to your response.”
- Politely follow up: Influencers are busy, which means you might have to follow up a handful of times before they respond.
Read this article I wrote on how to pitch people and get them to say yes for a detailed look at the strategy.
Play the long game, win huge prizes
Use the Dream 100 strategy over months and years, and you’ll have a huge network of influencers you can work with to build your audiences, make more money, and develop lifelong friendships.
When it comes to the influencer game, the rich get richer.
Once you reach a high enough level, you gain “insider status” into influencer networks. All the top influencers are in a tight-knit group where they help each other. They share each other’s work, exchange trade secrets, and help each other in all sorts of ways because combined effort works much better than going it alone.
You can break into these circles, but it takes patience, diligence, and dedication (which are traits most creators don’t exhibit).
Be different. Be patient. Then watch your influence and income grow exponentially.