Interviewing an expert in your field can drive traffic to your website and make you and your business much more visible. This guide will teach you how to reach out to experts, how to interview them, and what to do with the material they give you.
Get the Interview
1. Attend Conventions and Events
Industry events are fishbowls filled with experts. You can strike up conversations and ask for on-the-spot interviews, or you can ask them questions during a panel Q&A.
2. Connect on Social Media
Follow your expert on social networks and engage in conversations around what he or she posts. If it feels authentic, you can create content that mentions your expert and then share it on social media to build rapport.
3. Read Your Expert’s Blog Posts, Articles, and Books
Knowing your expert’s material helps you learn which subjects matter most to them. It will not only help you when you reach out to your expert but also when you develop interview questions later.
4. Use a Publication to Gain Leverage
Contact the editor of a blog or online magazine that accepts guests posts or freelance work. Pitch an idea around the expert interview and see if the editor is interested. The expert might not grant an interview to you, but they might be willing to grant an interview to a high-traffic blog or well-known magazine.
5. Find out How the Expert Likes to Be Contacted
Your expert might prefer a Twitter DM or mention, an email, or a phone call when receiving interview requests. Sometimes, they’ll state a direct preference in a blog post — for instance, “I like people to ask me if they can pitch an idea instead of sending an email with a pitch in it” — or you might notice a pattern in how they respond to followers who ask for interviews. Follow the example of people who’ve gotten the interview, or ask in the way the expert likes to be asked.
6. Ask for the Interview
Experts are busy people, so keep your request short and direct. Even if you’re asking over the phone or in-person, it’s a good idea to script it out so that you don’t get nervous and forget what to say. It should include:
- Your name and one sentence about why they should talk to you
- A quick summary of what you want to ask them about
- A suggested time and location for the interview, if you have one
- Information about where the interview will be published, such as in an expert roundup blog post for a major industry magazine
- A “thank you” and your contact information
Conduct the Interview
Decide How, Where, and When to Talk
You can conduct your interview over the phone, via videoconference, or in-person. Whichever option you choose, be sure to record the interview for accuracy and to let your expert know that you’re recording it.
If you’re at a conference, carry a bag of video equipment with you so that you can grab a five-minute interview at a moment’s notice. This SlideShare from Tim Washer, starting on slide 34, includes a bare bones list of affordable video equipment.
Anticipate Pre-Planned Answers
Experts get asked the same questions over and over again, and they often fall back on scripted answers. Brainstorm questions that no one has asked yet or oft-asked questions that you can ask in a different way. Also, think of ways to pivot on-the-spot in your interview if you realize you’re getting a scripted answer.
Ask Questions That Build a Story
Before the interview, watch some well-done expert interviews on YouTube and analyze how the interviewer structures the process. Try to imitate the work of interviewers that you admire, or ask questions around powerful themes like the expert’s history, critical moments in the expert’s life, or redemptive experiences (e.g., Steve Jobs getting fired by Apple and then returning to lead the company).
Use the Material
An expert interview can provide material for many different kinds of content. You can upload the video to YouTube, write a series of blog posts, share video or audio clips on social networks, or create an infographic.
Squeeze every ounce of mileage you can get from your interview footage and notes. Who knows — if your content makes the expert look good, you could have a shot at a future interview.