How I Connected With 150 A-List Entrepreneurs by Writing a Book

This is a guest post by Matthew Turner, author of the book, The Successful Mistake.

They say it isn’t what you know, but WHO you know.

For years, I thought that saying applied only to sleazy politicians and lawyers and Wall Street businessmen – people who I thought just wanted things from other people.

Aj LeonI found it all rather fake, and the idea of building a career around those I ‘know‘ somewhat disheartening.

I was dead wrong.

More recently, I’ve come to realize that I was too focused on the dark side of building relationships. After all, for every Darth Vader, there are dozens of ninja-like Jedi’s ensuring the galaxy doesn’t slip into the wrong hands.

For every politician and smarmy business-card-swapping guru, there are folk like John Corcoran… and Clay HebertDorie ClarkJayson GaignardAlan FawcettAJ LeonNatalie Sisson… and Jordan Harbinger who connect folk with other folk for the sheer love of connecting like-minded minds.

I’m lucky to know these inspiring individuals, and each one has introduced me to other entrepreneurs and go-getting changemakers.

Which brings me to this post, and how I’ve developed over 150 life-changing relationships with those I admire and look up to.

It began with a book and an idea to share stories, but along the way, it’s changed ME… how I think… how I work… and how I approach each day…


Why a Book Sets You Apart When Building Epic Relationships

If you follow John’s articles and interviews, you already know the value of building epic relationships, and the many ways you can achieve this.

The best way to build relationships is to go in with no expectations or wants or needs. You help folk because you can, introduce them to others because you wish to, and expect nothing in return.

But when starting out, such an approach is scary as hell. You need clients and readers and listeners, and you reach out to others because you hope they can help you grow. This doesn’t make you a bad person.

If this is all you ever do, and  you forever take and ask and swipe, then sure, good luck on building anything above a mediocre reputation.

But we often have to ask for help, and for the past two-and-a-half years, I’ve emailed hundreds of inspiring entrepreneurs and asked for their valuable time. For free. Encouraging them to share stories and advice. Knowledge they usually charge thousands for.

Why do they give me their time for free?

Simple: because I’m writing a book. That book is The Successful Mistake: a book that focuses on an entrepreneur’s greatest mistake, and how they transformed it into a wonderful success.

Not everyone I email replies. Not everyone says yes. But over 160 busy entrepreneurs have. Folk like Chris Brogan, Pamela Slim, Neil Patel, Rachel Elnaugh, Kate Northrup, and our very own John Corcoran.

I don’t mean to name-drop. My point is simply that I (a complete and utter nobody) has tempted those I admire to jump on Skype with me.

It didn’t begin with a large Blog or a popular Podcast or a major TV Channel, nor did I have much to offer in return to the other person.

When Jaime Tardy invites a millionaire on to her show, the guest knows they’re getting exposure in return.

Those who appear in The Successful Mistake don’t get this. So why would they agree to be part of it? Why would they give me the time of day?

Because it’s for a book, and there’s something appealing about appearing in a book.

It’s prestigious. It’s exciting. And would you like to know a secret…? Few people actually write books!


Some do, such as Danny Iny, who wrote Engagement From Scratch (which features Mitch Joel, Jeff Bullas, Kristi Hines, and C.C. Chapman, among others). Danny worked hard to make this book come to fruition, but for the most part, it’s made up of other people’s stories.

His role, as such, is rather small. But it kickstarted an amazing journey, because not only did he was able to build and nurture relationships with incredible people, but he also built his own authority at the same time.

Because there’s something about a book, isn’t there?

Writing a book is like Guest Posting on steroids. (Click to tweet)

Yet few people approach a book with such a community mindset. They start a podcast with interviewing authority figures at its core. And writing blog posts that feature advice from 20 Social Media Experts.

Everyone seems to write a few books these days, too, but it’s usually their book.

The Successful Mistake isn’t my book. It belongs to everyone who appears in it, because without stories from Sean Platt and James Clear and Debbie Millman… I would have nothing to write about.

I also wouldn’t know what I know, because these are the people who’ve taught me so much.

I could have written a book about mistakes over two years ago, but it’d be just another book. I believe in its final form, The Successful Mistake will be more than a book.

In fact, it already is, and continues to bring a great deal into my life each day – that’s the great thing about building relationships. Their benefits are exponential. 

Pam Slim

A Book is Always More Than a Book

The Successful Mistake’s Crowd-Publish Campaign is currently live (on an awesome platform called Publishizer, founded by Guy Vincent, who Tom Morkes introduced me to. Who I met via AJ Leon). I have no idea how successful this campaign will be, nor do I know if the book will become a bestseller – or sell at all.

Despite this, I KNOW this entire journey has been an epic success, because of everything else it has given me. Relationships top this list, and the knowledge I’ve gathered through the people I’ve met.

I honestly have no idea where I would be without this book, but I wouldn’t be anywhere as inspiring and fun.

These relationships have introduced me to new possibilities and opportunities, too. My podcast, The Purple Coffee exists because I needed a platform to share the 125+ recorded interviews I have on my laptop. I mean, why the hell wouldn’t I share these with the world?

Nick Unsworth has taught me how amazing video podcasts are, and the extra dimension they provide.

After seeing people like Dan Miller, Dave Kerpen, and Pam Slim develop courses and services based on their books, I’m inspired to do the same with The Successful Mistake.

When I see what Jayson Gaignard is doing with mastermind dinners, and Jared Easley is with conferences, I’m encouraged to create my own events.

The Successful Mistake has become much more than a book, and it’s done so because I involved other people, learned from other people, and connected and formed relationships with those I look up to.

And as all this has taken place over the last 600-and-some days, I’ve developed a crowd of people invested in ME.

They want to share the book with those they love, because it is a book they appear in, are part of, and belong to. More importantly, they give me more of their time, share wisdom and knowledge, and help me as I start new ideas and projects.

This is why a book like this is far more than a mere book, and it’s why your future book isn’t, either.

Jason Gaignard

How to Ignite Your Own Relationships with a Book of Your Own

I know what you’re thinking: writing a book sounds like a lot of hard work. It is. The way I’ve approached The Successful Mistake is a true labor of love.

I’ve spent the better part of three years interviewing people, and now I have months of writing and transforming these stories into a cohesive narrative.

But there are other ways, such as Danny Iny’s fine example. Danny and his team worked hard on Engagement From Scratch, and no matter how you approach it, a good book doesn’t just happen. But Danny’s involvement was not as time-consuming as it would have been if he hadn’t involved others, because he invited other people to write and share THEIR stories.

You may already have some of the content you need, via your blog or podcast. If not, don’t worry, for I have 5 actionable tips you can walk away with today. And, because you’re a fine reader of John’s blog, I want to provide you with something special.

If you click the button below, you’ll get FREE access (no email required) to:

  1. MY EMAIL TEMPLATEhow I contacted 160+ go-getting minds
  3. AN AUDIO VERSION OF THIS POSTfresh from my Yorkshire lips


1: Think of a Killer Topic

Your first task is to come up with a relevant topic that entices people to lean in and say, “I need a piece of this!”

I talk about how I came up with The Successful Mistake on the Publishizer Page, but if I was to go through this process again, my topic may surround Brand Storytelling (because this is what I blog about).

You have a skill set, and an audience, so consider what topic brings these two separate entities together. It’s all about providing true value, and helping YOUR audience. And if you’re unsure where to start, ask them. Use a tool like Typeform to gauge how you can best serve your audience.

Listen to them. Most of the time, you don’t have to ask them questions at all, because if they email you the same questions, the same worries, the same struggles… this is what your topic should be.

Take John, for instance, and the amazing value he offers on relationship building. His journey didn’t begin here, but by listening to those around him, and considering how he can truly help, he has developed content and courses and books like  How To Increase Your Income Today By Building Relationships with Influencers, Even if you Hate Networking.

Consider what you bring to the table. Aim everything at YOUR audience. Ask them questions. Listen to them. Be observant, and that killer topic will come.

Jaime tardy

2: Create Your Hit-List

Once you have your topic, it’s time to build your Hit-List. As you can imagine, my list for The Successful Mistake was rather vast and varied. I didn’t have a targeted industry per se, but if I was to start again and focus on Brand Storytelling, I’d focus on people like Bernadette Jiwa, Mars Dorian, and C.C. Chapman.

And don’t worry, you needn’t target 150+ people like I did.

I’m crazy. Don’t be like me.

Be YOU. Reach out to 30… or 20… or 10… It isn’t about the quantity.

Some topics are more niche than others. Your schedule is different to mine. Set your standards high, challenge yourself, and keep everything within reach.

As for the actual hit-list, keep it simple:

  1. Create a Dedicated Evernote Document (or whatever note-taking app you use)
  2. Write Down Their Names & Websites (you don’t need any more info at this point)

That’s it. Once you start working your way through the list, I suggest you add those who reply and say yes to a new document (I have a dedicated Google Doc, in order to separate those I target with those who say yes).

We talk more about staying organized below, and so long as you’re comfortable, it really doesn’t matter how you create your hit-list.

What matters is having one, because day-by-day you work through it, build connections, and transform your book idea into book reality.

John Corcoran

3: Think Different and Change Your Approach

This is where it gets interesting, for it’s time to reach out to those on your hit-list. Remember, you don’t wish to get an interview, or a quote, or a quick reply. You desire a relationship, so you have to be unique, helpful, and interesting.

You can swipe my email template HERE, but you may find email isn’t the best way to go.

These days our email inboxes are insane, but our mailbox is not. Maybe you can write a letter, or make a phone call, or turn to Linkedin… Instagram… Facebook… or Twitter.

I primarily use email, but often send an accompanied Tweet saying something like:

“Hi John, hope you’re well. Just sent you a quick email, and can’t wait to hear your thoughts and have you involved…”

Something as simple as this levitates you above the riffraff, AND ensures they keep an eye out for you email.

I can’t tell you the amount of times someone has tweeted back, saying they didn’t get the email.

I don’t consider myself SPAM, but Gmail does from time to time. (Thanks a lot, Google.)

And here’s a big secret I’d like to share with you. Ready?


Most require a follow-up, and what I’ve found is, many go-getting entrepreneurs use this as a means to filter the serious from the not-so-serious. After all, they receive dozens of emails each day, so they do whatever they can to whittle this number down.

If you don’t follow up, you won’t get many replies. So here’s what you do.

I use to keep me organized, but other tools like Boomerang work as well. And when you do follow up, it’s important to Think Different & Approach Different once again.

Instead of an email, reach out over Linkedin. Instead of a Tweet, try Facebook. Or, my personal favorite, impress their socks off with a Video Email.

I explain how in the video below, but the important lesson to take from all this is to follow up, stand out, and be damn different.

4: Stay Organized and Be Professional

Once you contact a few people, and have to deal with follow-ups a week later, and video emails a week after that, and you’re contacting new folk each morning… boy-oh-boy it’s easy to message the same person twice.

Not a good first impression, and a true buzzkill when it comes to nurturing a relationship. (I speak from experience.)

Tools like Evernote and Google Docs may help, but it doesn’t hurt to go deeper, because trust me, you’ll soon have a few balls to juggle. Here’s a quick workflow I used for each Successful Mistake interviewee:

  1. Find someone awesome and add their name and website to your EVERNOTE Document
  2. Add their details to CONTACTUALLY and send your first email
  3. BCC a FOLLOWUP reminder for 1 week later
  4. Follow up via Twitter / Facebook / Wistia Video / Facebook / etc…
  5. When they say yes, arrange an interview through CALENDLY
  6. After the interview, add their details to a GOOGLE DOC Spreadsheet

These are the tools I continue to use when contacting podcast interviewees, potential clients, friends, and just about everyone else in my life. I can’t sing the praises of Contactually higher, and I know John agrees.

If you don’t want to commit to a CRM system like this, include apps like Sidekick into your workflow so you can see who opens your emails, and when.

When you send out the emails is important, because it helps you uncover the best times of day to reach out.

This may sound complex, but I promise you it isn’t. It adds seconds to your day, but ensures you stay organized, making progress, AND prevents you from contacting the same person twice.

And if you don’t have time to do this all yourself, hire a Virtual Assistant to do the legwork for you.

As John covers here, a tool like Contactually helps you build epic relationships for years to come. Set high standards from the beginning, and bask in your future glory.


5: The Book is Only the Beginning

REMEMBER, this isn’t about a book. The book is a vessel to develop relationships with those you admire. Yes, it is a way of creating and sharing epic content. Yes, it may bring financial benefit.

But first and foremost it’s about building epic connections with those you admire.

This takes time, so be patient.

The Successful Mistake: More than a Book

I didn’t begin writing The Successful Mistake with building epic relationships in mind. I knew it would help, and provide an opportunity to connect with folk I admire, but I wanted to write this book because it’s a book I NEED to write.

It didn’t take long to see the bigger picture, though. I soon saw it as more than a mere book, and I think The Crowd-Publish Campaign proves this – with the online course, audiobook, events and plans for a super cool website/membership system.

But the biggest benefit from interviewing 160+ inspiring entrepreneurs, is that I’ve met, connected with, and formed relationships with 160+ inspiring entrepreneurs.

I’m not best friends with everyone, but I am friends with many. And every single name I’ve mentioned in this post is featured in The Successful Mistake.

If I can do it – an average and ordinary guy like myself – then you can, too. You could do it via Blogging and Podcasting and Real World Events, but so few people take this approach with books.

Have any more questions about how you can create your own book? If so, include your questions it in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer your questions.


Matthew “Turndog” Turner is an author, Brand Storyteller & Speaker who spends each day Discovering, Creating & Sharing Inspiring Stories. He’s the author of THE SUCCESSFUL MISTAKE: a book about overcoming your #GreatMistake and transforming it into your best idea yet.




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  5. Never thought you could build so many great relationships by just writing a book!

    Thanks Matthew, will add this article to our social sharing schedule :)


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