Interview An Expert – a Step By Step Guide

Guest Post by Michael Nichols

This article was originally posted at: http://michaelnichols.org

Over the past few weeks I have been asked a number of times – “what can I do to get more traffic to my blog”? There is no simple answer, but one of the best ways I’ve discovered for generating traffic is to conduct an interview with an expert in your subject area.

In fact, I have garnered record comments and views on posts featuring an expert interview or book review. Here’s an example of a recent interview with an expert in his field. So, where do we start?

Getting Started

Get acquainted with leaders in your field. Make an “A-List” of people you’d like to work with someday. Then contact them. Yes, it’s actually that simple. Just ask. Most will say yes…no kidding.

You may have to schedule the interview for a few weeks or months out, but most will appreciate and welcome the opportunity to connect with your growing tribe.

When you send your initial request for the interview, be sure to include:

  • A brief introduction of yourself
  • Thank the person for their work and impact
  • Explain what you are asking for (in this case an interview) and why
  • Include links or references to past interviews (if you have some)
  • Make a clear ask (Why is this a separate bullet point – because a lot of people struggle with this.)
  • Include your name, contact info and blog address

Prepare

You’ll need to actually prepare for the interview – ahead of time – really. The 20- to 30-minutes in the interview will fly by. So you’ll have to prepare to effectively use every moment. Don’t waste this incredible opportunity. By the way, do not schedule more than 30 minutes for the interview – if you can’t interview someone in 30 minutes, you need to plan better or get more practice. Find all the background information you can – review their professional bio, their blog, their latest book, follow them on Twitter.

Then, from your research, develop a list of interview questions. Here are a few ideas:

  • I’ve become acquainted with your professional bio – but how would you describe your life story?
  • Briefly describe a defining moment in your career.
  • What is your best leadership advice?
  • What motivated you to write [Book Title]?
  • What have you found to be the greatest needs in your organization (or industry)?
  • I’ve read your book – what questions would you have for me as a reader?
  • Who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader? How has this person impacted your life?
  • What is the most important decision you’ve made as a leader?
  • How do you communicate vision to your team? to the organization?
  • How do you ensure that the work of your organization is aligned with the core values of the organization?
  • When faced with two equally-qualified candidates, how do you determine whom to hire?
  • What is the biggest challenge facing leaders today?
  • What is the one mistake that is most likely to derail a leader’s career?
  • What resources would you recommend to someone looking to become a better leader?
  • What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop as a leader?

Keep in mind that in a 30-minute interview you won’t have time for all of these questions I’ve listed and their responses. So, choose or develop interview questions that are most relevant for you. Then practice the interview a few times.

The Interview

In the interview, be yourself. There’s no need to try to get all intellectual or anxious about what the expert will think of your questions. Just be authentic – they’ll appreciate itmore than you know.

First, explain how you plan to use the time. For example, “I’d like to give you a little background about how I connected with you. Then ask you a few questions and give you an opportunity to ask me questions. Is that okay with you?”

The Ask

If you ignore everything else, don’t ignore this I was not prepared for this in the first interview I conducted. Most of the time near the end of interview the expert will ask you: “How can I help you”? Be prepared to answer. This is the equivalent of closing the sale. If you’re not going to close the deal, stay home.

Write out your clear, concise answer to this question. A few examples:

  • I’d like to include your responses in a feature on my blog in the near future. Does that sound okay?
  • I’d like to submit a guest post to you to consider for your blog. Of course, there would be no obligation to use it. Would that be okay with you?
  • Is there a particular topic you’d like for me to address?
  • I’d like to give away 20 copies of your book on my blog – is that okay with you?
  • Would you be willing to post on my blog regarding [topic]?

Deliver On What You Promise

If you promised to feature the interview on your blog – let the expert know when it will be published. If you are giving away their book – ship the books. If they are guest posting for you – publish the post.

Then promote it all along the way – on Twitter, on Facebook. You might event get a re-tweet from the expert that will spike your traffic.

Follow-up

This is nearly as important as the askJeff Goins recommends that you keep showing up in their life. Don’t be annoying – just occasionally and intentionally show up. Most will appreciate the encouragement – and if not, that’s okay too. You’ve served them.

The Goal

Here’s the big one. Set a goal to get on as many expert lists as possible so that you’re the one being interviewed. Be patient – this will come with time, and a lot of good content will follow. So, get cracking.

Question: What would you add to the list? What has worked for you?

Share your ideas in the comments section.

Michael Nichols is the author of Creating Your Business Vision and is the Executive Pastor at First Baptist Church in Midlothian, Texas.He has spent his career facilitating personal and organizational growth. He also writes, speaks, coaches, and consults.He is married and has one daughter and one son.

You can follow him at MichaelNichols.org

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