How To Interview Business Leaders

Interviewing business leaders isn’t easy.

Business leaders are actively managing teams, flying to conferences, and putting out fires. Their time is precious.

Without some authority and ability to provide value, it simply can’t happen.

How Do We Reach Business Leaders We Want to Interview?

image 102
Steps To The “Thank You Machine”

We teach something called the Thank You Machine.

It starts with a genuine ‘thank you’—maybe for their insights or their content. Make it personal; show you’re really listening.

Then, give it an edge with something unique to them.a comment, a share, a small token that’s relevant to their work.

For example, if I wanted to get in touch with someone like Daniel Murray I might quote his article and add commentary.

This isn’t just niceties; it’s strategic. You’re on their radar now, as someone who values their contribution.

So when you reach out for that interview, you’re not a stranger—you’re the one who made that smart, thoughtful gesture. They remember you. They’re more likely to say yes because you’ve already started building a relationship with them.

Or like if I wanted to get in touch with Jeremaih Owyang, a fellow public speaker, I might comment something like this:

In essence, the ‘Thank You Machine’ turns simple gratitude into a powerful tool for opening doors and creating opportunities for meaningful conversations with industry leaders.

Afterwards – your messages or attempts to set up an interview isn’t seen as parasitic since you’re giving real value and helping, even on a small scale.

If You Want to Interview Business Leaders, They Need to Know You Are at Their Level

That means you have authority in a field similar to theirs.

Authority is broken down into three components: content, people, properties.

image 101
The 3 Components To Growing Your Personal Brand Authority

Content Includes Events That Lend Credibility to Your Personal Brand

For example, if I tell a story about flying out to Pakistan and speaking in front of hundreds of young adults on how we want Pakistanis to have 1 million new jobs, that’s a story which might raise the eyebrows of an entrepreneur who wants to empower others with job opportunities.

Content also might mean when we record training and podcasts. We even have content on how to create content in our personal branding course.

The point is – we have supporting stories and documented proof that we’re important across some vertical the business leader cares about.

Properties Include Assets That Business Leaders Find Valuable

For example, our website BlitzMetrics has a DR score of 62. This means that we’re able to promote content which benefits other assets and websites from an SEO perspective. 

If you’re a digital marketer, an article from us linking to you would help tremendously.

You don’t need to have some big website either. Maybe you’ve been hosting a podcast channel on YouTube that’s gaining some traction.

Think “what can I do with the assets I have to benefit the person I’m trying to interview?”

Even guest blogs like the one you’re reading now have a big impact.

All of This Intersects With People and Real Human Connection

If I record a video with Jake Paul for his course, other popular content creators might see that and decide I’m worth their time to interview.

image 104
Recording Content For a Course With Jake Paul

If I appear on CNN and debate Mark Zuckerberg, that makes me more credible to present on national TV.

image 105
Dennis Yu on CNN Debating Mark Zuckerberg

Notice how every one of these videos and interactions puts me in a better position to reach out and talk to others.

To manage this, you need to have these components of authority organized into your personal brand manager, Content Library, topic wheel, and your 3×3 video grid.

Think about how you can collect items of other people’s endorsements that you can tell stories through. It’s not enough to have pictures with authority figures at conferences, people can see through this.

You must be able to have videos with these authority figures, where you are acting as a journalist. You must make the other person look good, and not promote yourself. 

Making this other authority figure look good is what will cause them to want to help you and your mission, which leads to them introducing you to their Network.

You must have this authority to have respect from the people you are trying to interview. Unique content that shows you have the expertise that you can add value. You always want to add value before you ask for a favor or someone’s time.

It is not until you have done favors for others and lead with value to build these relationships over time that lead to opportunities and introductions.

The key to being a good networker is by leading with value and not asking for a favor be it someone’s time or their access to their network.

When you have a clear mission and nurture relationships over time by giving value, your network will do the work for you, leading you to other people that want to help your mission.

Things NOT to do

  • Do not ask for someone’s time.
  • Do not ask to pick someone’s brain.
  • Do not Pitch someone.
  • Do not ask for a favor.

Ask yourself why someone that already has a full schedule and not enough time would want to spend time with you. What can you do for them?

They most likely do not care what you want them to do for you, especially if you have not built a strong relationship of giving value over time.

When you get to the point that you have earned the right to someone’s time. you will want to meet this authority figure that you do not yet know on a personal level.

How Do You Make This Introduction?

Think about the tools you have to get you there, social media. See what that person is sharing and make educated conversation on those topics, not flattery. The difference is you have done your research on the topic and commented something that is relevant to the topic they are discussing.

For example, if they just made a post about their new book, read their book and comment on something they talked about in the book.

This shows you genuinely care about their ideas and are not just looking to give a cheap and easy compliment such as “great book.” When you take the time to study their material they will notice the time you have put in and this will be a sign of respect that will be noticed.

​​To take this idea even further, create content that promotes the ideas they are sharing. 

Create content that promotes person X’s new book. “What person X’s book taught me about “Y” topic. You could even ask this person a question about something that’s in their book and ask if you can quote them in your article about it, telling them that you are going to promote this piece of content.

For example, I did something similar for my friend Alex Berman:

HOT TIP: If you are still working your way up to being an authority figure and you want to interview a semi-famous person, tell them you can promise a certain amount of views for this interview via paid promotion.

Only do this if you will actually spend the ad dollars to promote this interview.

If you do not follow through on a promise such as this it will be far worse than never making this interview.

Leverage Your Existing Connections

Practicing inception is a great way to take advantage of mutual connections. For example if you want to connect with person X create content with a mutual connection of theirs and target person X’s audience.

If I make content for life insurance providers with Caleb Guilliams, who’s famous for this, and then target his followers – it’s much more effective at grabbing their attention.

And vice-versa, if Caleb wanted to reach digital marketers, collaborating with me and promoting that content to my followers would be more effective at reaching them.

image 4
Dennis Yu With Caleb Guilliams

The Best Way to Grow Your Network and Connect With Business Leaders Is Having a Mentor

A mentor is someone who has done something you’re trying to do, someone senior who wants to help you. Not a mastermind group you have to pay for.

A mentor is someone who wants to help you achieve your mission.

You can find a mentor by using the principles we have been talking about, leading with value and asking to help others without expecting something in return.

Someone who has already done what you are trying to do will see this and want to help you. This is why it is so important to show that you have a clear mission that is bigger than yourself.

What Should You Do During Your Interview?

If you have the option, the more professional the better.

Here’s what my studio looks like with all the fancy lighting equipment.

image 103
Dennis Yu’s Home Studio in Las Vegas

We have an entire course on how to set up studios you can find here.

Don’t have thousands of dollars in lighting equipment or a fancy camera?

That’s okay – what matters most is how you speak.

If you’re interviewing important business people, you should only be talking 20% of the time. This is especially true if they’re a LIGHTHOUSE in their industry.

You should prepare questions in advance, especially if they’ve scheduled time out of their busy schedule to talk with you.

Watch your umm and ahhhs. Your tonality and the way you speak, including stutters, matter a lot.

I interviewed Michael Krigsman, host of CXO talks on how to handle high profile interviews here.

But overcoming nervousness is almost half the battle when you’re interviewing individuals leagues ahead of you in your industry.

Remember that these are people like you or me that are simply a few steps ahead of you.

What About After the Interview?

After the interview you should go about repurposing content and storing it in your content factory.

We have an entire guide on repurposing content you should check out.

But all you need to do is transcribe it using a software like Descript and add it to a wordpress blog like this.

You can also chop it up on Capcut and repurpose it to Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok.

But the point of this is extending the reach of the interview so it can reach as many people as possible on different platforms.

If you have a good 1 hour interview, you probably have 10 pieces of short form content ready to go.

You can then promote it with ads using Dollar a Day.

There are no shortcuts to building relationships and making connections to get these interviews.

Put in the work and do the research.

Your goals should also be somewhat in line with the people you want to connect with. 

If you’re a digital marketer, you shouldn’t be trying to interview basketball players.

If you’re a dentist, you shouldn’t be trying to interview farmers.

Not every person you want to connect with makes sense for them to spend time with you. This is why you must demonstrate you have a clear mission that’s mutually beneficial for them to take part in.

And the more of these you do?

The easier it becomes not only to get in contact with these high profile people, but conduct interviews that give you more credibility for your personal brand and company.

Dennis Yu
Dennis Yu
Dennis Yu is co-author of the #1 best-selling book on Amazon in social media, The Definitive Guide to TikTok Ads.  He has spent a billion dollars on Facebook ads across his agencies and agencies he advises. Mr. Yu is the "million jobs" guy-- on a mission to create one million jobs via hands-on social media training, partnering with universities and professional organizations.You can find him quoted in major publications and on television such as CNN, the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, NPR, and LA Times. Clients have included Nike, Red Bull, the Golden State Warriors, Ashley Furniture, Quiznos-- down to local service businesses like real estate agents and dentists. He's spoken at over 750 conferences in 20 countries, having flown over 6 million miles in the last 30 years to train up young adults and business owners. He speaks for free as long as the organization believes in the job-creation mission and covers business class travel.You can find him hiking tall mountains, eating chicken wings, and taking Kaqun oxygen baths-- likely in a city near you.