By Jay Connor

If you run an interview-based podcast, the single biggest challenge you’ll face is securing guests for your show, especially during its infancy. Since it’s a process that can be equally stressful and arduous, it’s important to be as consistent as you are strategic in how you go about securing your guests.

As such, here are 5 foolproof methods to secure the big name guests your audience craves:

1. The Hunt Begins with Your Immediate Network

At the outset of your podcast, the prospect of corralling guests can be daunting. However, the first place you should explore is your immediate network.

If your podcast is centered around Mental Health & Wellness do you know any therapists, counselors, or psychologists? Do you have any friends who’ve participated in therapy? Or who consider themselves proponents of mental health advocacy?

Once you factor in your family, friends, co-workers, or anyone else you have a direct relationship with, you’ll be amazed at not only the pool of potential guests you have at your fingertips but who they might know as well. Never underestimate the scale of your immediate network.

2. Email Is Your Friend

No, really. We live in a day and age where accessibility is at a premium. So between social media profiles, official websites (as well as the contact forms therein), or just asking around, it’s easier than ever to find an email address to contact your potential guest. So pull the trigger.

However, in sending a “cold” email (meaning you don’t have a prior relationship), it’s important to properly introduce yourself, state your intentions, and disclose who you are contacting them on behalf of (which in this instance would be your podcast).

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If you’ve had prior guests of note, it would be advisable to mention them as well. Additionally, familiarize them with any pertinent information about your podcast (its premise, target audience, etc.) and why they would be a strong fit. You’ll be amazed by how responsive even the biggest names in your market are to a well-constructed email. So never be afraid to hit Send.

3. Solicit, Solicit, Solicit

Good things come to those who wait, but better things come to those who ask. In your newsletter or on your social media accounts let your audience know your door is open for guests.

If there’s a specific niche or skill set you’re looking for, as opposed to a specific person, be as detailed as possible in what it is you want and request that anyone who is interested contact you directly via email. You never know who’s reading your newsletter or your social media accounts, so don’t be afraid to swing for the fences.

The most important thing to keep in mind about solicitation is there are thousands of highly qualified experts and professionals in hundreds of wide-ranging fields who are dying to get in front of an audience. So not only are you looking for guests, but exciting, compelling guests are clamoring to be found.

So how do you bridge the gap? Another way to solicit guests is to use free services such as RadioGuestList. You specify your audience and other details in their Guest Request Form and after RadioGuestList publishes it your inbox will be flooded with interested parties. It’s an invaluable resource you should absolutely consider using in order to broaden your guest pool.

4. It Pays to Mingle

Never underestimate the power of face-to-face networking.

Look for Meetup groups, happy hours, conferences, industry mixers, seminars, anything relating to your market and go meet some people. Especially if it’s an event featuring speakers or panelists who already have an established fan base.

Introduce yourself and your podcast to your person of interest and if you’re able to pique their interest, exchange personal information so that you can secure an interview with them at a later date. Just remember: you’re there to sell, not to close the deal. So show them the car, but don’t bully them into a lease.

5. Why Yes, I’ll Happily Accept Your Referral

Provided you have success with any of the above, your guests might enjoy recording with you so much that they might refer friends of theirs to come on as well. Much like your own network, you never know who your guest knows. Which would lead to a jackpot of amazing content and interview gold.

But provided they don’t take the initiative to introduce you themselves, make sure you’ve established a strong rapport with your guest and that they will feel comfortable with making an introduction. Success is absolutely dependent upon relationships, but you don’t want to make your new friend feel exploited.

What success have you had with these tips? Do you have other recommendations? Let us know in the comments!

Jay Connor Founder and Co-Host of The Extraordinary Negroes Podcast