How to build relationships with influencers

Feb 12, 2016 by
How to build relationships with influencers

As a business owner, it can feel as if the monumental task of achieving long-term profitability for your company rests solely on your shoulders.

However, with the right help, even the most difficult business goals can suddenly become achievable. This phenomenon is most obvious when it comes to promoting a new product, service, or even a piece of content.

Irrespective of how good the content is, if you can get an influencer to retweet one of your blog posts, there’s a high chance that it will outperform your other pieces in terms of traffic and engagement by a landslide. In order for this to happen, you usually need to build a relationship with the influencer, and this is initially achieved by delivering value to them.

How to find influencers

You can probably already think of a handful of influencers who have a good reputation in your industry, but there are sure to be ones that you’ve missed. Go to BuzzSumo’s influencer search and enter terms pertaining to your industry. This site is particularly useful because it shows how many times each article is shared on the various different social media platforms, giving an indicator to how highly regarded the author is (and how likely it is that your content will receive high engagement if the influencer shares it).

Remember, when targeting influencers, it’s important to look at engagement rather than followers. If a person has an abundance of followers on social media but receives no engagement for their posts, this is a negative sign and could be an indicator that the followers were acquired using underhand tactics.

Create a private Twitter list

Entrepreneur and marketer Gary Vaynerchuk

Entrepreneur and marketer Gary Vaynerchuk

After you’ve decided with which influencers you would like to establish a relationship, create a private Twitter list which includes all of their accounts. This will give you a direct stream of information about each the influencer’s interests, which can be leveraged at a later date. In the digital era, it’s easy to forget that a personal relationship is usually a prerequisite to a business relationship.

For this reason, entrepreneur and marketer Gary Vaynerchuk often advocates getting to know someone’s interests before pitching to them, and uses himself as an example since he’s an avid fan of  the New York Jets and loves to talk about them (when he was young and couldn’t afford a Jets replica jersey, his mother actually knitted him one!) A private Twitter list is also recommended for logistical purposes once you start retweeting and engaging with your selected influencers.

Provide value

Think of ways that you can selflessly benefit the influencer, and then follow through. Easy ways include: giving them retweets, leaving short comments on their blog posts telling them exactly what you liked about their writing (personal comments are always better than generic ones), quoting them in your content and referring people to their business. If they’ve written a book, you can really impress them by writing a glowing book review as one of your blog posts.

Remember that building relationships is a long-term strategy. Just because you’ve given an influencer a couple of retweets doesn’t mean that you are immediately entitled to have them promote your new product. You should dedicate months to building positive relationships with influencers before you even think about asking for anything in return. Although it can be challenging to perform a task which doesn’t result in an immediate economic return for the time invested, if you continue providing value to someone for a long period of time, they are bound to notice, and when they decide to reciprocate, that’s when the magic happens!

As entrepreneur Chris Ducker states:

“This may sound a bit counterintuitive, especially for new entrepreneurs who feel a strong sense of urgency, but having a long-term perspective with your relationships will set you up for future success”