Do you want to increase your sales? Want to boost your business? Want more exposure for your content?
Build relationships with influencers in your industry!
We all know that collaborating with key influencers in your niche is one of the most effective ways to reach the masses and spread your brand's message across various channels.
An influencer is a well connected and a trusted individual who has the power to affect other people’s actions because of their expertise, authority, or reputation.
Influencers tend to have a large and loyal active following.
Notice how the content of top bloggers like Jeff Bullas, or Neil Patel gets shared a lot around social media?See how the videos of mega Youtube vloggers like Jenna Marbles, Bethany Mota, or Michelle Phan gets tons of likes and comments?
Because they’re well respected and highly visible in their niche.
The've earned the trust of their audience through the content they provide.
Thus, they've built their credibility as "influencers".
So when they promote your content, you get exposure and respect that comes from their endorsement.
Therefore, reaching out to influential people in your vertical is crucial to the growth of your brand and business.
Unfortunately, getting them to respond is not as easy as it seems. Keep in mind that you’re not the only person looking to reach out to influencers. They’re probably bombarded with thousands of messages everyday.
So you need to rise above the noise to grab an influencer's attention. But how can you do this?
Let these 23 key influencers answer that for you below:
Connecting With Key Influencers In Your Niche:
1. “Create a Dialogue”
Social media has made it easier than ever before to connect with industry influencers. However, it takes more than a casual conversation to capture their attention.
When I first started building my online presence, I recognized how important it was to create a dialogue. This meant that simply retweeting or sharing others content wasn’t enough. I had to add my voice to that shared content.
How can you do this?
- Join Facebook Groups or Google Plus Communities where industry influencers hang out. Share their content and then add your two cents. Why did that article impact you? What about it resonated with you? Fuel the conversation by offering your thoughts. And don’t forget to tag the author. Tagging (appropriately) along with a worthwhile conversation will always grab an influencer’s attention.
- Before responding to a tweet or commenting on an influencers post, read their bio. Make your reply relatable. Let that influencer know that you’ve truly taken an interest in them, rather then just making a drive-by comment.
- What have you learned from the influencers you follow? Share those details across your own social media or within a blog post. Gratitude goes a long way and will catch the eye of any influencer paying close attention to their mentions.
- Be specific! Throwing out a “thank you” might seem nice, but nowadays, it gets lost in the noise. When you appreciate something an influencer has shared, be specific about why it made an impression on you. In order to stand out, you need to leave an indelible mark in the mind of an influencer.
2. “Give before you ask"
Give. Give. Give. Give big time of yourself before you even consider an "ask".
Way too many people try to connect on LinkedIn, then immediately ask for something. Or they reach out on Twitter and you've never heard of them.
You'll have the best success if you authentically follow them and engage with them on social media.
Take time to listen to their podcasts and read their blog posts, then comment on the blog with something authentic. Retweet then on Twitter when you like something they've shared. Comment on their Facebook page when you have a comment that is valid. This is a one week deal.
This should be done for some time, maybe 2-4 months so that you (1) are on the radar of the influencer and (2) have proven yourself as someone that adds value and offers intelligent and insightful interactions to the conversation.
It can only help if you are linking to their material in your comments and blog posts as well.
Your "ask" has to be measured according to how much you have invested in helping and contributing to their success.
By building trust as an authentic and helpful follower you build equity for your "ask".
Finally, your first ask should not be huge or a massive "ask" (like: Can you be the guest speaker at our next event? We don't have huge funds to pay you but would really love to have you here).
That's not going to do it.
Your "ask" has to be measured according to how much you have invested in helping and contributing to their success.
3. “Create a platform of value”
Build a platform of VALUE in your field of choice. Then influential people will come to you. With EntrepreneurOnFire, I have created a stage where incredible and inspiring Entrepreneurs have a massive reach to the over 750,000 unique listens EOF generates every month. To quote Albert Einstein: 'Try not to become a person of success, but rather a person of value.'
4. “Focus on providing great content”
I would say the first step would be to focus on who your buyer personas are. Rather than going out and trying to capture as many people as you can with your message and content focus on a few people who can become brand evangelist for you. I always advise people focus on content. Content is the best way to capture people's attention.
In regards to engaging with powerful people in your industry -- patience and persistence is key. They will eventually catch sight of you if you are providing great content through blogging. :)
5. “Get face to face with them”
There are many ways to develop a relationship with influencers, but I am going to focus my advice on what you do to make contact with the very top people in your industry.
That advice is to figure out how to get face to face with them.
One simple way to do that is to go to conferences where they are speaking, go watch them speak, and then make a point of going up to them after their presentation and introduce yourself.
I have personally done this countless times, and it’s very effective.
Of course, you need to treat this as a precious opportunity, so make sure you have something interesting to say.
Don’t go up and just talk about yourself, as that will get boring for them very fast, and it is NOT the way to impress them.
Don’t go up and just talk about yourself, as that will get boring for them very fast, and it is NOT the way to impress them.
Sure, give yourself a one sentence intro, but then find a way to add value to their day.
For example, make an interesting observation on what they just spoke about. Relate it to an article they wrote recently, or relate it to some other observations of your own.
You can also improve your chances of this working out well for you by engaging in interesting dialogue on their blog or social media feeds prior to going to the conference.
Influencers don’t really want you fawning all over them, and they don’t want to hear all about you.
They probably got to be influencers by being passionate about what they do. Show that you share that passion, and your chances of gaining some of their attention goes WAY up.
One last thing: No strategy works 100% of the time, and this situation is no exception. However, this strategy does work well more often than most!
6. “Start with lower tier influencers”
Think like Dominoes. Start lower down and build up your connections and influence. For example, seek out some lower level bloggers and get some credible reviews/usage/impressions for your product/service.
Once you have a few good reviews people are more willing to engage and they are more likely to mimic the sentiment of the early reviews. You can create a Domino effect.
Remember, you are making friends here, so think who you can connect people with. Think about how can you become a go-to resource. You could be offering advice, connections, introductions or simply promoting and re-sharing ideas.
Even if you are asking for an action, always lay out your credentials. Make people feel like they are taking part in something that has momentum.
Connections and influence is a game of approximate equals, so don't blow it by reaching too far, too high, too soon. Earn and learn your way up the influence ladder.
Simply do great work and people will notice you.
Simply do great work and people will notice you, but don't expect over night success.
Chasing influence can feel light trying to catch lightening in a bottle, plus the impact can be a lot less than you'd imagine. You'll likely see more impact from a steady stream of lower and middle tier influencers.
Work had to build momentum, but work even harder to maintain it.
And for every positive impression you create, ask who else you should be talking to.
These approaches have worked for me in the Business Intelligence field, in board game publishing and in Social Media with Listly.
7. “Be valuable”
You have to realize that influencers are approached all the time from a "me, me, me" standpoint so they are usually resistant to those that approach them with an attitude of "can you help me" when you have spent NO time working on building a relationship with them.
I think the first step to getting started is making a commitment to building a relationship with an influencer. To do that, you need to start listening to their social media channels. What are they talking about? What do they care about?
If you spend the time to listen, you can find a way to provide value or assistance to an influencer. When you provide value in some way, you build your credibility, trust and social capital with that influencer.
A few ideas on how to be valuable to an influencer...
- Promote their content, products or services
- Comment on their blog content
- Tweet their content with thoughtful comments
- Comment on their Facebook pages and LinkedIn Groups
- Ask to guest blog for them
- Attend their events
- Do product or book reviews
- Hire them as a coach or consultant
- Send them business referrals
Remember, influencers are always looking to form relationships that are mutually beneficial so spend the time and try to get their attention the right way.
8. “Be genuine. Don't be pushy.”
If you want to get heard among all the noise online, you need to grow your virtual presence. The best way is by making friends with the influence makers in your industry, leading naturally to chances for collaboration.
It can be tough getting to know these influential people. You’re not the only one who wants to connect with them. To stand out and get their attention without being pushy you need to be unobtrusive, respectful of their privacy, and genuinely helpful.
Use a four step process. First, research to find out where they hang out on social media: Twitter name, Facebook Page, LinkedIn profile, other major platforms and blogs. Second, unobtrusively follow them on social media.
Third, after you get feel for their posts and style, occasionally add a pertinent comment. This needs to be helpful, appropriate, interesting, original and relevant to the post. Never spam. Fourth, after you get familiar with their social media and blogs, share the content with your own audience if it’s a good fit. Mention the name of the influential person on Twitter and Google+ so they are aware of the share.
In this fast-paced social media world, patience is a virtue, and a little restraint will work wonders.
9. “Engage with them in a meaningful way”
It's funny because the best way to get on the radar of influential people in your industry is to simply reach out and engage with them in a thoughtful, meaningful way.
Sure you can send them an email out of the blue - which works only a fraction of the time and is a major turn off for most - but why not use social media to send them any number of social signals, comment on their blogs, compliment them on their victories, engage in conversation when they ask a question, and so on?
It's actually easier than you might think, but only those who are thoughtful, meaningful, and actually take the time to do it right are successful.
Remember, it takes time to create meaningful relationships with people, and social media doesn't change that.
10. “Ask them specifically how you can be of help”
I give and give and give. By supporting other influencers, promoting what they have going on, or asking them specifically how I can be of help. I never ask them anything first, I just give and build a relationship over time.
When they ask "how can I help you?" then I'll let them know if I want support with anything.
Most the time I won't ask for anything, until I have something I've been working on for a long time that I want everyone to know about.
11. “Write genuinely good content about them”
I truly believe that the best thing you can ask yourself when establishing connections is "how can I help this person" and not how can you get on their radar, because the latter comes naturally if you get the first bit right, and it reframes it to be about them, not you.
If it is someone you truly would like to make a connection with, think of them as a person who has challenges, interests, inspirations just like any other and connect with them from that perspective. So, I have 1 story and 3 tips:
Story: One of the best connections I have ever made came from an influencer I had been chatting to online and when we met at a conference, he blew me away by saying "Donna, How can I help you?".
He followed that up with some suggestions for how he could help me and then he reminded me a couple of weeks later that we needed to follow up on it.
Nothing was requested from him in return.
He was true to his word and he has helped me and my profile has grown immensely because of him. And I have (hopefully) helped him in return.
I use that as a benchmark for how I relate to people who are in a more influential position than me. I always reach out to them to help them first.
- Tip 1: Focus on Helping. Even if it is just re-tweeting someone's content or making a comment on their blog, or referring their services or blog to another person - I always help first. If I look back at some of the amazing connections and now friendships I have with Forbes influencers, major StartUps, speakers and top blogs or bloggers, they all came from a genuine conversation, common interest, or real life event where I helped them. We always remember someone who helps us. If you do reach out in an email, make sure you make it about them and show that you understand their business or blog.
- Tip 2: Don't forget the emerging influencers and those in your circles - they may not be on the A List but they might end up there someday, or they might know people that they eventually introduce you to. However, don't connect with them just for an introduction! - instead connect with them to build a support network. Even if your close network does not consist of top influencers, you can all help each other build your profiles, and that gets noticed by people in your industry. It's a marathon not a race. One connection leads to the other.
- Tip 3: Write genuinely good content about others - don't just write list-bait posts where you list influential people as influencers and then hope they will share it. Write genuinely good content about them. Did you hear them speak at a conference? Include them in a post with the other influential speakers you loved. Tweet their quoteable comments. Review their company's product/tool/service.
I write for Entrepreneur and Social Media Examiner and when I write about a business, influencer, start up or tool, I do it genuinely - both to help my readers and to help the person or company I am talking about.
Writing great content about people has been the most powerful connection tool I have, and has built the most rewarding relationships.
12. “Go above and beyond to show you're there to help”
Don't ask first, help first. Offer value. If they need help with something, or even if they don't, go above and beyond to show you're there to help. The law of reciprocity almost always comes back in your favor, and if not - that's okay!
13. “Invite them to get featured”
I am in Internet Marketing business which I guess is the easiest in terms of interacting with influencers taken the overall digital literacy in our industry. One of the best ways to make friends with influencers is to invite them to get featured. From personal experience, I never decline an offer to get featured in an expert round-up or a group interview, for example. Being featured among niche experts is something which is hard to reject even if you are very limited in time.
As an example, we've been very successful with our Twitter chat strategy at #VCBuzz. Every week we invite an influencer to answer 5-6 questions on Twitter using our hashtag.
Most of the influencers we pitch say "yes" and most of them become our great friends and promoters for lifetime.
This strategy does require some commitment (you can't miss a week to keep building up engagement) but it also motivates and organizes you very well!
14. “Start a conversation”
Nowadays influencers are way more accessible than they have been in the past. Social media, blogs, podcasts and online video has opened everything right up!
Whenever I want to start a conversation with a person of influence I go straight to Twitter.
The quick, simple, straight-to-the-point usability of Twitter makes it way more likely that you'll get an initial reply from them and you can then take things to the next level via email, or even in person, if you're at the same event.
15. “Be as human as you can”
Here’s a secret. Instead of thinking business, think as human as possible. That is best way to get on the radar of influential people.
All it takes is simply being human and engaging with them through the content that they share, whether it be tweets or blog posts. You can do this by sharing and adding your own thoughts in them. A mistake many do when sharing these content is not adding what they think.
You can't stand out if you do what everyone else is doing. So don’t be afraid to share what you really think instead of simply agreeing.
Through this simple mindset, I was able to interact with and attract even celebrities like Alyssa Milano to follow me. I am honored to be the lucky few people whom she is following compared to the millions of followers she has. I even had business leaders like Grant Cardone to noticed me. He even tweeted to his followers to follow me too.
For me, the secret is to simply be as human as you can. :)
16. “Build a Relationship First”
In marketing you need to have a plan and a strategy, and the same applies to connecting with influential people in your industry. Explicitly selling on social media or approaching influential people without first having a relationship with them doesn’t work. Dan Purvis wrote a fantastic post here on social selling and how not to believe the hype – the same principals apply when engaging with influencers.
It pays to do as much due diligence about the people you are trying to connect with; when are they online and which social networks? What are they talking about? What are they blogging about? Who else are they connected to? The more you know about them the easier it will be to connect with them and get on their radars.
It’s also worthwhile researching who they are connected with and if you have any mutual connections – don’t be afraid of asking for an introduction and working your way up.
There are lots of tools you can use to find influential people in your niche, but do also take the time to apply human intelligence as well… it’s not just about the numbers but how engaged they are online too – in fact the more engaged they are the more likely they are to respond to you in the first place. It may take time but be patient and make sure you preserve with your efforts!
17. “Do something for them that adds value to them and their career”
To get the attention of important people in your industry you need to provide value to them, since they are likely inundated with requests to connect since they are popular and control more influence than your average professional.
To stand out from the crowd and to start building a relationship with these influencers, offer to interview them, review their recent book, write about them by mentioning their work or doing something else that adds value to them and their career.
By creating an exchange of value with an influencer, you're well on your way to building an ongoing relationship with them and not get ignored.
18. “Help Them Grow”
This is a tough thing to answer, because all the advice out there has now been copied and used so much that when people do the "learned" way to reach out, it comes off so fake and cheesy to me.
Something like "Oh wow I love your blog and long time reader"
Yet I have never seen this person comment once or tweet or share any of my posts... EVER! LOL
So for me personally, I'd rather someone email me a simple yet straight to the point email.
But I will say this, if you are asking for help with something YOU need like a ebook review, help with sharing out a new post or anything then you need to put in the work weeks and months before.
You will get my attention faster and you will get a yes easier if I have seen you in MY community, commenting, sharing etc...
Here is proof in my advice.
6 months into my blogging journey I put together a Twitter book to sell. I decided I would reach out to some big hitters and ask them to... a, read and review the book or b, review and give me feedback or share it on their social channels.
I reached out to all the blogs I had been commenting on and sharing for months.
A few said "yes, no problem JP I'll share it out" a few said "no problem JP and they did post reviews" and a few said no and a few no replies to my email.
But what I learned the most, was a few of the BIG hitters actually knew me and said something similar to "yea I know who you are JP, I see you in my comments all the time and I thank you for that"
All from people I never spoke to and many I never even got a comment reply on their blogs, yet they still knew me.
They all said yes because they saw me in their community helping THEM grow, so they had no problem giving back to me a little bit to help ME grow.
19. “Provide Value”
I suppose we can approach this a little differently by asking why you want to catch someone’s attention in the first place? If the answer to that is so you can audience increase your reach, gain reputationally or have bragging rights then you are highly unlikely to catch their attention or get them to respond.
Every request received by someone who has a sizeable following in social media and who is quoted a lot is sized against the question of what value would that bring A. to their audience and B. to them.
If the value proposition is not there, then no matter how clever or coy you have been in your approach you are likely to get ignored at best, rebuffed at worst.
The reason this happens is the same that brands are finding it difficult to make gains through traditional marketing and consumers now follow specific brands: i.e. alignment of purpose.
If you haven’t got a commonly shared broad vision with a company or a brand then you are unwilling to give them your custom.
Similarly if there is no sense of shared values with an influencer you are really only wasting their time when you reach out to them.
20. “Offer Help”
Capturing their attention can be done by offering to help them such as free content for their blog such as a guest post or as simple as retweeting them on a regular basis.
The secret is to give, give and then you may get some attention and maybe joint venture opportunities!
21. “Build Relationships in Real Life"
The best piece of advice for getting influential people in your industry (or any industry for that matter) to engage with you is to start by building a relationship, preferably in real life.
Skip the mass, fill-in-the-blank emails! Don't beg them to add you to their social media followings.
Instead earn their respect by spending the time to get to know them online and social media but not in a creepy way. Read their content and follow their conversations. Attend events where you can meet them and engage with them.
22. “Keep it simple. Try not to overcomplicate the request.”
Ask. Really, it’s that simple. Personally, I appreciate people who come right out and ask. We can get to the rest of the details as needed if the request is doable. Keep it simple. Try not to overcomplicate the request. If there’s something, such as information you need that you can get on your own first, get it, don’t ask for it. By being prepared it shows the influencer you are serious and thoughtful. The rest will work itself out.
Have an easy ASK, but value the relationship more than anything else. I can't emphasize enough how hard it is for me to see so many emails in my inbox asking me to coffee.
I just don't have enough time in the day, sadly.
If you ask me something simple I can answer, and then we build a relationship from there, though, you never know where we'll go together;)
Do you notice how most of them wants you to "Give first" or "Build relationship first" with influencers before asking anything? Yes, influencers love helpful and genuine people and so do I.
I love messages/comments with personal touch. I love freebies. I love it when people share my content regularly. That's what makes me check what you're all about.
So to stand above the noise, take the time to get to know them and offer something interesting or something that adds value to them and to their business. Avoid sounding like a robot!
The key here is, you need to scratch their backs before they scratch yours.
Do you have an approach on how to get the attention of influencers in your industry? Feel free to share in the comments below!
Need the large version of the infographic? here.