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When is the best time to build a relationship with an influencer? Before you need it.

Think about it. If you were at Starbucks without a credit or debit card (and don’t have their app) and were a few quarters short paying for your coffee, who do you think would be more likely to help you out: the stranger in front of you in line, or the close friend waiting for you at the corner table?

People are always more willing to do something for someone they know and like. That’s true at Starbucks, and it’s also true in public relations and marketing. Regardless of an email’s contents, it won’t feel like a pitch if it’s from a friend (and if it’s pitched well).

That’s why I like to start building relationships with people before I need them for anything. For months, and sometimes longer, I’m talking to …