The Forbes Contributor Program is about as elusive as the American Express Centurion Card. We all know it exists, but there’s no online form to become a member (that ship has sailed). Most Contributors will tell you they were invited by an Editor, but there are a select few who were able to introduce themselves to someone who could vouch for them. I’m one of those people. Here’s how to become a Forbes Contributor — no invite required.
Ever heard the phrase it’s not what you know, it’s who you know? Well, that rings true here. You need someone to invite you to the Forbes Contributor Program. But finding someone who can do it isn’t too hard: Any current Forbes staff member should be able to point you in the right direction. This is where LinkedIn will be your friend. Use it to track down employees and reach out to them asking if they can help put you in contact with the right person.
Not sure what to say? Follow this template:
I hope you and your family are keeping well.
I’m interested in becoming a Forbes Contributor but I can’t seem to find the right person to reach out to. Can you please point me in the right direction?
These are busy people who get thousands of messages a month, so get straight to the point. If you try to draw them into a lengthy conversation you probably aren’t going to get anywhere. Just let them know what you want so they can decide whether they want to help or go about their day. Just remember to thank them anyway if they decline — you may well be rubbing shoulders with them as a Forbes Contributor very soon.
Sure, you’re cold calling… but it won’t take long until you get a lead. Prioritize Senior Editors and Editors, followed by Staff Writers. I reached out to three people before I struck gold. The fourth provided me with an email address for someone who sent me a form to fill in. Less than a week later I was onboarded. Just be prepared to explain exactly what you want to cover for Forbes and to share some examples of your published work.
If reaching out blindly isn’t your style and you don’t have an existing contact at Forbes there’s one other thing you can do: Wait for Forbes to reach out to you. Unfortunately, this will require you to produce quality opinionated content for another leading publication, such as Entrepreneur or Inc. The good news is these are a bit easier to get accepted for. Although, of course, there’s no guarantee Forbes will ever come calling.