How to Engage the 100 People Most Important to Your Organization’s Success

How many of you have a business or strategic plan for reaching your goals? A financial plan?

How about a relationship plan?

In my talks, I always get resistance to that last question. People think it’s mercenary or manipulative, but it needn’t be. You already prioritize your spouse or child above your best friend from high school, so use that same principle to manage your professional relationships.  All it requires is shifting the motivation you lead with in developing those relationships, whether they’re personal or professional: You start with a creative offer of how you can help.

This same concept is the core of my consulting firm’s approach to high-touch marketing with our clients. Traditional marketing starts with a broad premise then develops a campaign that’s a mile wide and an inch deep, aiming to reach as many people as possible to increase the odds that you’ll actually engage the people you need. Too often this approach is a lot of effort with little reward.

In high-touch marketing, we coach our clients to front-load that same level of effort into their prep work by identifying the people most critical to advancing their particular business goal. It’s like my Relationship Action Plan writ large, taking the personal approach and applying it to organization-level goals. The resulting campaigns are highly individualized to each person’s profile and needs. They go inches wide and a mile deep.


That’s not a cat walking across my keyboard. That’s our cumbersome, but important acronym for developing high-touch marketing campaigns: Focus, Target, Define, Align, Outreach, Renew.

Think of FOCUS as an umbrella. (Or a dome if you’re Stephen King.) It’s your team’s overarching goal and should drive planning.  Go beyond “We need to accomplish A.” Strategize how your team will reach that goal, how each person maps to it, and, finally, who is missing from your team.

From there, you can TARGET the people you need to partner with to achieve that goal. Think broadly at first and include groups you haven’t marketed to before. If you focus too much on knowing individual names first, you may not the find connective tissue you never knew existed between your goal and the most important people to help you achieve it. You’ll also miss out on creating a richer and more diverse group of contacts. Once you have your list, look to see where your respective goals overlap and align with theirs.

The more you know about the contacts in your TARGET list, the more likely you are to discover how you can uniquely serve them in pursuing their own success. To DEFINE what you’ll offer each target, I like to use “five packets of generosity,” which are, like it sounds, five things you can offer that person or group of people. It can be something as simple as an article about interesting developments in their field or in their personal volunteer work—just make sure it provides value and shows a level of personal thought.

Once you’ve completed your prep work, it’s time to ALIGN your goals with each of your teammate’s networks to find those unique connections that can advance your goal. Go deep into your respective networks. For all the professional overlap that may exist, you’ll each find unique ties to bridge gaps in your strategy.

OUTREACH is essential. The high-touch in High-Touch Marketing refers not only to the personal tailoring but to the right cadence of contact. Your targets should feel that you are genuinely as invested in their organization’s success as you are in that of your own.

From there, RENEW your interactions with the relationships you are cultivating for this goal. Your plan is a living thing. How you and your team serve these relationships can alter and refine your strategy. What you thought at the beginning will change and morph over time, so embrace it and be open to choosing what’s behind Door #2.

Approaches to Serving Those Partnerships

Here are a few of the practices we co-create with our high-touch marketing clients at Ferrazzi Greenlight:

  • Executive Relationship Management: Relationships don’t happen overnight. You need to take care of your contacts, colleagues, and friends. The more secure they feel in their relationship with you and your organization, the more likely they will be to follow up on opportunities you present.
  • Dinners: Dinners are one of the cornerstones of our engagements and can be used in any situation. My annual TED dinner brings together an eclectic group of thought leaders like Peter Diamandis and Blake Mycoskie to socialize with C-Suiters and entrepreneurs within an industry or field of expertise. Tailoring dinners around the needs of your target list is an effective way to serve them.
  • Thought Leadership Sales: Deeper and longer engagements can revolve around working with your client to co-create intellectual property. Combining each other’s strengths to advance your respective brands where your expertise overlaps results in going higher together.
  • Executive Community: Finally, for longer-term engagements, create an executive community around your clients to help them develop their own networks. In recent client work, we created a recurring engagement where we schedule an annual summit that feeds into recurring, smaller, actions like quarterly roundtables, newsletters, and peer-to-peer events.

Creating such specific, targeted engagements may be time-consuming and resource-intensive, but they also produce high-impact results. Too often, our marketing and outreach strategies focus on what we want and who can help us get it. By changing that focus to first asking how you can help the people you want to engage, you create a generosity loop that becomes self-sustaining.

It’s all just a matter of mindset. And when your mindset is one of service rather than a transactional exchange, opportunities you didn’t even think of begin presenting themselves—things like working with Ferrazzi Greenlight. If you felt energized and motivated by this blog post, we’d love to hear from you.



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