How I tricked Ali Abdaal into becoming my friend

(The Debrief is included as part of your subscription to The Productivity Ping, and is delivered monthly)

On the 6th of September 2023, I was walking back to my hotel in Dublin when I received this message:

🤯 3 years into our asymmetric relationship, I was going to meet my role model in person!

Quick recap

Ali Abdaal is a Youtuber with >4.5M subscribers and he single-handedly inspired me to start Youtube in the first place.

What set him aside from 99% of other Youtubers in his genre is apart from telling us what is possible (i.e. "you can reach millions of people through Youtube"), he also walks his followers step-by-step how to realize those goals (e.g. his video editing course on Skillshare taught me how to edit videos).

Why is meeting Ali such a big deal?

Apart from the obvious (meeting my role model), I wanted to share this experience with you because I’ve always preached the importance of networking in my Youtube videos.

While my content mainly resolves around networking for the purposes of landing a new job, I applied the exact same concepts to get on Ali’s radar!

Specific steps I took

  1. Responded to Ali’s Instagram polls and LinkedIn posts with thoughtful comments ("Yes, and…" instead of "Cool")
  2. Unlike 90% of his followers, I responded to his newsletter only when I have something valuable to share (as opposed to always asking for his help, screenshot below)
  3. Meaningful engagement with his team members (Saf, Bhav, Adi) in the hopes that they would mention me to Ali
  4. Brought him (and his team) gifts from China (don’t underestimate the power of bribery, I’m kinda serious)

Lol ok, was all that work worth 1 selfie?

In the short-term, Ali gave me ~4 ideas on how I can grow my presence on Youtube (and beyond).

  • I actually already implemented one of those ideas and 3X-ed my revenue for one of my products while providing >3X value for my customers

In the long-term, other than making a friend (hopefully anyways 😅), I have no doubt that I’d be able to benefit from Ali’s network, resources, and mentorship.

How the f*** is any of this applicable to me?

Whether you’re trying to befriend a role model or land a new role, hopefully you see that -

  1. Networking leads to tangible outcomes: It actually feels like cheating to find someone 1 step ahead of you who can tell you exactly what to do and what mistakes to avoid
  2. Providing value never fails: 90% of people ask for help first (just think back to the last LinkedIn connection you received). You will stand out by  providing value first (it can be as easy as responding with the “Yes, and…” framework)
  3. It takes time: It took me 3 years to go from being a random viewer to befriending Ali. Part of that was due to geographical limitations (if I lived in London we might have met up sooner), but the point is to start now so you can reap benefits in the future

If you’re still not convinced, here’s how I “tricked” Austin Belcak into a chat 😉

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