A question I receive often goes something like this: “How do I get connected with X well-known person so that I can partner with them in my business?”

Partnering with big “players” is a hot topic and it simply means connecting with influential people you admire to create a win-win relationship. This relationship can lead to a big boost in credibility as well as an incredible amount of exposure, plus more access to opportunities and resources.

You already know you want to make more of these connections. The question is, where to start?

Here are four simple steps you can follow to get you there, starting now:

1. Shift your mindset.

It all starts here. These influential people usually have a good-sized list and a lot of clout, and it can sometimes be intimidating for business owners to approach them, as the playing field just doesn’t seem level. This is where an important mindset shift comes into play: you must begin thinking of yourself as an equal. If you have a tendency to undervalue your skills, abilities, and what you bring to the table, now is the time to kick the habit!

One of the most important things to know is that this is a strategy that’s meant to be long-term—it’s NOT something you can rush. It’s also something that requires another type of mindset shift: don’t go into it thinking about how they can help YOU, but how you can help THEM.

2. Make a wish list.

Making a list of people you’d love to work with is the first step toward making these relationships a reality. Writing it down sets the intention, and gives you a lot more clarity when it comes time to set your strategy in motion.

3. Show up where they show up.

Time and again I’ve experienced the power of attending live events when it comes to planting the seeds of collaboration with the people on my “wish list.” There’s nothing like a little bit of face-time.

A simple icebreaker once you’re there? “Hi, my name is ____. I don’t think we’ve met yet.” (And please remember that it’s JUST as important to follow-up afterward as it is to show up in the first place.)

High-touch in our high-tech world can be the most effective way to create these connections, but don’t forget social media and email as well. Follow them on Twitter. Re-tweet their content. Create a “wish list” group in Hootsuite. Connect with them on Facebook and comment regularly on what they share. Comment on their blogs.

If you have your eye on a particular person, be sure to express to them why you appreciate what they do and how they’ve helped change your life or business for the better. If you’re sending an email, keep it succinct and to the point. Offer to help them first, perhaps by connecting them to someone you know who would be a great person for them to know.

4. Win them over with class.

Persistence is important, but be cool about it. Pursue them “gently.” Compliment without gushing, and come from a place of giving and service. People are smart and can sense a hard sell.

Remember, it’s not about what YOU can get out of it. Give first, then get. If you don’t receive a response, understand that people are busy and take it in stride. There’s no reason you can’t still support them, so don’t take it personally.

And when you do finally score that awesome partnering opportunity? Keep in mind it’s not about hogging their spotlight. The power of association is enough to make your connection MORE than worthwhile.

It’s simple, right? Follow these four steps and you’ll be rocking your own circle of influence in no time.

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