Part of running a successful interview podcast is bringing on respected guests who have an intimate knowledge of your show topic or notable success within your field.

But how can you even contact these people, let alone convince them to come on your show?

It’s not as hopeless as you might think.

Throughout my years of podcasting and helping dozens of entrepreneurs start and produce their own podcasts with our Podcast Launch Services, I have picked up on what works to get big-name guests to agree to interviews.

Below you’ll find six key steps that will help you get amazing guests on your podcast and ensure they’re excited about the opportunity to share their expertise and knowledge with your audience.

And before we get started, know that this strategy takes a little time and effort but is FAR more effective for getting big, influential people on your show than normal outreach. So use this approach for those high-level people you’re not sure will be open to doing an interview with you.

Step 1: Consider Your Guests

The optimal podcast guest will be someone your audience is really excited to learn more from, and someone who has a significant online following of their own.

The larger their audience or circle of influence, the better.

This is especially true for your first few episodes, as you will want to make a splash in the community with interviews of the top experts in your space.

Getting a big name in your industry to come on your podcast is a great form of social proof, and name-dropping goes a long way to separate your show from others out there.

Correct or not, people will assume that if you were able to get a major influencer in your field on your podcast, then you must be credible.

So take some time to consider who is doing interesting things in your space, who is an influential authority, and who has intimate knowledge to share on your topic.

Then write down the top 5 – 10 people your audience would be most excited to hear interviewed.

Step 2: Research

This is perhaps the most important step.

Now that you’ve got your list of potential interviewees, pick 3 of the people in your top 10 list and spend some time figuring out what makes them tick.

Go to their websites and read their about pages or any description of their organization’s mission to figure out what they do and why.

If they have a blog, read some posts. If they have a podcast, listen to a few episodes.

Maybe they’ve written books or papers. Read the one that would be most interesting to your audience—or even better, the one they just published.

I recommend going an extra step and looking at comments on their site to see how they respond.

You also want to note what types of interaction they encourage and where they are most likely to reply.

Are they active on Facebook? Twitter? Online forums? Do they encourage people to reach out via email?

Make sure you jot down that information, as well.

Just keep in mind while doing this research that you have three goals:

1. Discover their central message.

What are they trying to tell the world? What is their stance on a particular topic? What do they think everyone should know?

You want to get a sense of what they’re all about and how they are conveying it to the world.

2. Learn what motivates them to do what they do.

Are they trying to sell a product? Grow their audience? Advance their mission?

It’s helpful to note that there are three basic motivations:
1. Economic (money, wealth, or personal gain)
2. Social (the ability to spread their message)
3. Casual (a basic drive to “make our world better”)

Most people are motivated by all three, but you want to determine what exactly your potential interviewees are trying to achieve and how you can help them further their interest.

3. Take note of a specific thing in their content that really resonates with you.

While you’re reviewing blogs, podcasts, books, etc., write down a specific piece of their work that speaks to you on a personal level.

It can be a quote, a podcast episode, a chapter in their book, or an idea.

Whatever it is, take note of it and why it stands out to you.

Then hang onto it until the next step.

Step 3: Make Initial Contact

After you’ve done your research, it’s time to reach out to the people you’re hoping to bring on your podcast.

If you’ve followed the instructions in the previous step, you will have noted which platforms these people use regularly and where they are most likely to respond.

Those are the platforms you want to use to reach out.

And when you do, you want to communicate two major things:

1. That a specific piece of their content (the one you noted during your research) resonated with you on a core level or had a personal impact on your life.

2. That you are sharing it with other people because of this.

Here are a couple of examples to illustrate what I mean:

Example tweet:

Winning @ExpertName interview on social media strategies that I’m implementing ASAP. Get his game-changing advice here: LINK

Example Blog Post Comment:

Your point on Pareto’s Principle shifted the way I approach team management. How would you implement that strategy with a sales team since morale is such a crucial factor in sales? Thanks for the killer article Expert Name; I constantly refer my managers to your content!

The key here is to be original and authentic.

It’s not hard to tell when someone has sent out a recycled message they’ve used for a ton of other people.

What you’re saying should be true and personalized.

And if you want to go the extra mile, ask an insightful question to encourage a response.

Just be sure to make it clear that you understand and appreciate what they’re all about and that you’re eager to spread the word.

Step 4: Make Them Want You

Now comes the real meat of what you’ve been doing.

It’s time to send out the emails that will make people excited to come on your show.

How are you supposed to get these big names eager to be a part of your podcast?

By leveraging the research you’ve done on each person in combination with their motivations.

You have to let them know what’s in it for them.

Would your listeners be interested in buying their books? Hiring them for their services? Donating to their social cause?

Illustrate how being a guest on your show can help these people further whatever it is they’re trying to do.

Then it becomes an enticing offer instead of feeling a huge favor they’re doing for you.

Get Examples & Templates: If you’re struggling to figure out how you might word your emails to get people excited to come on your show, click here to take a look at some example templates for each motivation to get you thinking in the right direction.

Step 5: Scheduling

Influential people are busy, so you want to make sure it’s easy for them to come on your show.

When you receive a positive response to your initial email, immediately suggest a time to line up the interview call.

The goal here is to make it simple for them to select a time that is most convenient, so be sure to give them a few good options.

For example, your email might look like this:

Hi GuestName,

Great! My listeners will be thrilled to hear about your new strategy. What’s the most convenient time to schedule a quick, 20-minute call for the interview? The optimal times for me are:

Monday the 6th between 8 am and 11 am EST
Tuesday the 7th between 8 am and 10 am EST
Tuesday the 7th between 6 pm and 10 pm EST

Let me know what works best for you. We can also simply have the call over Skype, or if you prefer I can call your personal number. Which would be more convenient?

Thanks GuestName, and I’m looking forward to sharing your message with my fans.

Sincerely,

Ben

Another scheduling option is to use a simple free tool called ScheduleOnce.

I like this tool because it’s a fast and easy way to line up call guests and interviews, and it integrates with your existing calendars and Google apps.

It also makes you look professional and “sought after,” and their free basic plan is all you need.

However you choose to follow up, make it as easy as possible for people to schedule the interview.

Step 6: Get Referrals

This is the most commonly missed step, but one of the easiest and most effective.

After you conduct the interview and your guest feels good about sharing their message with a new audience, ask the guest if they know anyone else in the space who would be excited to share their message.

This is particularly powerful for some of the top knowledge leaders in your space and can lead to introductions to people you otherwise may not have the chance to meet.

Another effective method for getting referrals is to send your guest an email on the day his/her interview goes live.

Let the person know the episode is published, encourage them to check it out, and ask if they know any other experts in their space that would be exciting to talk to.

This final step is so simple and powerful that I can’t stress it enough.

Making the Most of Your Interviews

If you’re going to put the time into researching and inviting influential guests onto your show, you definitely want to make sure you’re doing your part to be a great interviewer.

Check out our article, How To Be An Amazing Podcast Host, for tips on asking the right kinds of questions, making your show enjoyable for listeners, and ultimately turning those listeners into clients.

Do you have other ideas for getting influential guests? Leave them in the comments below!