With your tiered database in place, it’s now time to get to work and start building some tangible relationships with these folks. I hate to say it, but the process is not rocket science. Does that mean it’s easy? No, but it’s not rocket science. Start here – BE HUMAN.
Influencers (be it journalists, community managers, bloggers, company CEOs, influential organization volunteers, etc.) simply don’t have time to be bogged down connecting with every random Joe, Bob and Susie. Face the facts – these are busy folks with busy schedules and you’re asking for their time. Make it worth their while.
Tamar Weinberg put together an excellent post last month on the topic that I would highly encourage you to read – How To Get An Influencer’s Attention. As you begin sifting through the great feedback Tamar received from these influencers, you can boil down a few key points to keep in mind when reaching out to make your own connections:
1. Do Your Homework – As much as possible, get a sense of the influencer’s personality, likes and dislikes. It goes without saying that you should take time to read the individual’s blog, tweets, watch some videos, etc. – use any available content to learn about the influencer.
In some cases you may find that an influencer doesn’t want to be any part of the influence “pitch” process (sidenote – Amber happens to be one of my favorite bloggers and I love how frank and human she is with her posts). Lucky for you, you shouldn’t be pitching, you should be building relationships.
2. Show Involvement – Well before reaching out to the influencer, you should have an active presence in the community or at least be knowledgable about this person’s sphere of influence. Proactive social credibility is key.
3. Keep It Short – Whether it’s an intro email, tweet, blog comment, etc. make your introduction to the individual concise in order to break the ice.
4. Be Relevant – Keeping it short means you’ve also got to be very quick in giving the person reason to care. Be upfront and direct about why you want to connect with them in the first place.
5. Get Introduced – Just like you, an influencer has a close group of friends/network that he or she actively trusts, listens to and engages. Why not work with the influencer’s influencers to connect?
For example – if I was trying to connect directly with Doug Ulman, CEO of Livestrong, I probably wouldn’t have much success on my own or it would at least be a very tedious process. A smarter move would be to work with Jonny Imerman to help bridge that initial connection. I already have an existing professional connection to Jonny, he is accessible, a key player in the community and has great ties to Livestrong. Overall, a much better chance of cracking through.
Drill down on the person’s network to help you close the gap. LinkedIn’s automatic mapping of connections might be a good start to see if there are any connections you may not have immediately thought about.
6. Be Grateful – This should go without saying but once you do land that connection, express your gratitude and don’t forget about those that got you in touch with the influencer along the way. Never treat the relationship as a one-off occurrence but rather use this as an opportunity to stay in touch, continue to share relevant info with the individual (even though it will not directly benefit you) and help bridge your connection to the influencer for others (meaningful introductions are always a great excuse to get back in touch).
7. Don’t Get Discouraged – Relationships take time. People are busy. If you don’t crack through to an influencer right away, don’t overstep your bounds and keep repeating the same outreach strategy. Keep plugging away connecting with others in the community, establishing your social credibility and try your outreach at a later time or under more relevant circumstances.
Have your own tips to share on connecting with influencers?