It’s been said that you are the sum of the five people you are closest with.
Your network is your net worth.
In other words, if you want to be a winner at life and business, you need to surround yourself with winners. If you surround yourself with go-nowhere losers, you will become a loser.
Networking with your peers – that is, with other business owners and professionals – is to be expected when you’re an entrepreneur, but have you ever thought of reaching out to an influencer?
An influencer is someone who has earned the trust and approval of a dedicated target audience. Influencers are speakers, authors, and game-changers in your industry. They are someone who impact the way people act, think, or make purchases.
For now, let’s set aside the fact that there is a branch of marketing called influencer marketing which aims at appeasing (or hiring) influencers with a specific goal of furthering your own business interests.
Just put that away for now and think about how great it would be if you could forge meaningful relationships with people you look up to, admire, and respect.
How would you grow and learn from such a relationship? What doors might open for you? How would it feel to be able to give back to someone you hold in such high regard?
You could meet an influencer.
Why not? Thanks to social media, you have the opportunity to meet anyone you want, right?
Right! Well – wait, not really.
Just because every influencer is available to be reached on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Instagram, doesn’t mean they’re chomping at the bit to be friends with you.
Most people are pretty terrible networkers. And when it comes to networking on social media, they’re even more embarrassing to behold.
For some reason, these people seem to think that just because they’re connecting on social media, all finesse goes out the window.
Networking requires tact and protocol, whether it’s the old fashioned, in-person way, or on social media.
Many of the same rules apply, and if you’re trying to get the attention of an influencer, you need to be even more aware of what you’re doing.
So how does an average entrepreneur reach out to form a meaningful, long-term connection with an influencer on social media (without looking like a deluded stalker)? Here are a few pointers…
Be selective with the influencers you want to reach
Have a good reason to want to reach out to a particular influencer.
Choose to connect with influencers who appear to share some common ground with you. Imagine you were already colleagues – what would you talk about?
Resist the urge to try to hit as many influencers as possible on social media. Taking a machine gun approach won’t get you a meaningful conversation with someone who is hard to get a hold of. Aim for depth, as opposed to breadth.
It’s best at this stage to just be really sincere – connect with people you would actually like to meet one day – someone whose values and goals seem to be in line with yours.
You should also realize that the bigger the influencer, the harder it will be to make a connection. I’m not saying you shouldn’t aim high, I’m saying your likelihood of success is greater if you develop a sense of being able to find someone who is on the verge of great success, as opposed to someone who is already at the height of their career.
It’s important to manage your expectations in this regard. That doesn’t mean you should never go for someone who is “out of your league” because you never know what’s going to happen in this crazy world. But don’t let radio silence from a social media celebrity diffuse your enthusiasm. Just try again or try someone else.
Become an expert on the influencer’s work
If you’re going to approach an influencer, you should be well-versed in their platform and their body of work.
Read their books, watch their videos, and attend their speaking engagements.
But praising their book or meme on Facebook or Instagram isn’t always going to be enough to get their attention, or at least hold it for very long.
The best you’ll likely get is a “thanks!”
If you want to stop them in their tracks, you’ll have to have something insightful to say about their work.
You could try asking them questions that show that you’ve studied their work – that’s a huge complement to them.
You could create a video book review, which they would probably love, because you’re basically helping them promote their book. (Note: a video gets more visibility than a written review.)
You could also make reference to a public speaking engagement of theirs that you attended.
Focusing on their work in this way opens up the conversation in a meaningful way. It starts the relationship on the right foot.
Walk the road least traveled
If the influencer you are trying to connect with seems inundated with comments or questions on social media, find out if they are present on another social media platform.
Sometimes, a particular influencer might be a big deal on Facebook or Instagram, for instance, but their Twitter account is relatively quiet. Maybe they just never got a lot of traction on Twitter, or they just don’t like it for whatever reason, or their focus shifted to other platforms that showed greater return on their investment.
If you reach out on a less popular platform, you’ll have a greater chance of getting noticed because there are less fish in the sea to compete with for the influencer’s attention.
Just be aware that the less popular social media account might not get checked as often as the more popular ones, so don’t be surprised if it takes a few days to get a response from your influencer.
Be of value to the influencer
Don’t ask the influencer for anything.
Resist the temptation to ask for an endorsement, a testimonial, a job, a shout-out, or handout of any kind – unless they ask if there’s something they can do for you, and even then, keep it simple.
When you first meet a new person in real life, and they are already asking you for favors, how does that make you feel? What impression do they make?
They come across as greedy and only interested in their own best interests.
If anything, you should be the one offering value to the influencer.
Influencers get asked to give all the time. If you turn the tables and give to them, they’ll see you as a breath of fresh air.
You can offer value in many ways.
Share their content on social media, post comments and insightful questions on their blog, spread the word about their upcoming professional appearance, or offer input or advice (this is best done via private message).
If they have a book or product, write a positive review. Better yet, make a video review, because videos are more visible and shareable on social media. By doing this, you are helping them promote their products and sharing their message.
Remember that the influencer is just a person, not a demi-God
Above all, don’t be too shy or intimidated by the influencer.
They were once like you.
You will find that successful business people who are self-made are often very conscience of where they came from and what they had to go through to reach influencer status.
Chances are, someone helped them out at some point before they made it big, and they will welcome the chance to help someone who shows promise and dedication.