13 Tips for Connecting with Influencers

There are several good reasons why you may want to connect with influencers. You may want to ask a favour of them, e.g. appear on your podcast; promote your product; tell their followers about you. You may want to harness the halo effect to build your personal brand, i.e. when others see you associating with big shots they assume you must be a big shot too. Or you may want to pitch an idea to them or ask for their advice. Whatever the reason, reaching out to influencers is a powerful move which, if done correctly, can dramatically shortcut you to success.

Why it’s hard to connect with influencers

  1. Influencers are busy. They get hundreds of requests a day. Don’t be surprised if your request is lost in the noise or it takes weeks to hear back – if at all.
  2. Influencers are choosy, wary or jaded. Understandably, influencers are careful about who they help as their reputation is on the line. They will often want to see what work you’ve done so far (e.g. what blog posts you’ve written; podcasts you’ve recorded – whatever the area of work you’ve chosen). They want to see you’re serious and that you produce good quality material. Some influencers are simply burnt out and jaded from all the requests or they want to limit their exposure to protect their brand.
  3. Influencers are intimidating. This is your hurdle to overcome. It can be nervewracking to approach an influencer for fear of rejection.

How to increase your chances of influencers agreeing to your requests

Here are some tips for increasing your chances of having influencers agree to your requests.

  1. Start where you are and put in the work. What you are or what you have today is not the real you; it’s only you today. It’s tempting to look at those ahead of you, who started before you, and think you can never catch up or do what they do. They started where you are and did the work. The secret is that there is no secret. Put the work in and things will get better. That’s a promise.
         Believe that what you are doing is important and worthwhile. Act accordingly and influencers will take notice and say “yes” more.
  2. Achieve something noteworthy. This is the best way to get influencers to agree to your requests. (In fact, it’s the best way to establish yourself as an influencer). If you’ve achieved amazing results in an area related to your influencer’s expertise, share that with them. For example, if your chosen influencer is a content marketing expert and you’ve grown your YouTube channel to 100,000 subscribers in a month, they’ll definitely want to hear from you. They’d be rash not to agree to your request.
  3. Do your homework. Start following your chosen influencer on social media. Link to blog posts or retweet their content whenever relevant. Add your own take on the subject. Influencers will often check who is backlinking to their sites and consistently referencing their material will put you on their radar. Dig your well before you’re thirsty. It’s easier to ask and have your requests fulfilled if the influencer recognises your name or is aware of your work.
    Engage them on Twitter. An easy way to do this is to retweet their work and ask them a related question. Retweet their answers.
  4. What’s in it for them? The first rule of sales (and you’re trying to sell your influencer on the idea of saying yes) is “What’s in it for them?” What are you offering the expert? One of the best offers you can make when you’re starting out is helping the expert promote a related product to your growing audience or to increase their profile in a particular sector. Many experts will say yes to growing their market reach so this is a simple, effective method.
  5. Be prepared. Know what you want from the influencer. Why are you making the request? Why have you chosen them? Prepare to talk about your work in the likely event the influencer has questions. What do you do? Why are you doing it? What results have you achieved? Have your personal elevator pitch ready.
  6. Borrow authority. You can further tip the balance in your favour with a simple tactic: contact leading authority sites and pitch the idea of an interview with your influencer. Once they agree, approach the influencer and say “[Leading authority site] would like to hear your thoughts on [your requested topic]. Can I interview you for this?”
  7. Enlist the help of publishers. Contact publishers to see which experts have books coming out in the near-future. Request a review copy and share your thoughts with your audience. Publishers would be happy to do this as they want to generate as much interest and pre-launch buzz for the book. The best part is that many professional publishers will offer to setup a Skype meeting with the influencer on your behalf.
  8. Get your timing right. Some of the top-list celebrities are extremely difficult to get hold of. However, they become much easier to reach when they have an imminent book or product launch. Like Hollywood actors, they know the rules of the game and doing interviews in exchange for promoting their product is part of the territory. Follow your chosen influencer on social media and when they announce a new product launch, take that as your opportunity to make your request. They get publicity for their new project; you get your request fulfilled.
  9. Get to the point. Influencers don’t have the time nor the inclination to read your life story. Make your request, short, sweet and polite. By all means give the influencer a couple of lines about what you do – what you’re trying to do – but keep it brief.
  10. Show them you’re serious. Influencers are more likely to help you if you can demonstrate that you are trying to help yourself. One way to do this is to build a solid body of work. If you have a podcast, for example, make sure you have other shows you can show the influencer. (This is a simple method – interview lesser-known experts first and escalate the guests with each show). Don’t go directly to your influencer when you have nothing to show.
  11. Hit send. Don’t let fear stop you. If you have done your homework; have good work under your belt; you’re doing everything right – then screw up your courage and hit “Send” on your request. Once that’s done, it’s out of your hands. Get on with your day.
  12. The power of just asking. We promise you something. The more you ask, the more things happen for you. That’s true in life, not just business. If you want to achieve more, ask more. It will feel uncomfortable but if you are polite and sincere that will come across and great things will start to happen. Jake in our office once organised an event for a topic he had no experience in. He managed to land 12 speakers from various Fortune 100 companies – just by asking. Get comfortable with asking – and be sure to offer your help in return. Influencers are just people after all. You may be awestruck because you know them but they are unknown when they’re at the supermarket or sitting in the coffee shop. They’re just people. Try not to put people on pedestals.
  13. If they say no. If they say “no”… So what? What have you lost? They didn’t agree but they hadn’t agreed last week. You’ve lost nothing. Do you feel rejected? Foolish even? That’s in your head. It’s not personal. If anything, you should be proud of yourself that you had the guts to ask. And no only means no today, not no, ever. You will likely have to ask multiple times to land a guest. That’s normal. In the meantime, keep doing your work; keep putting in the time and keep trying to do something noteworthy. You may find that your efforts will make you an influencer in your own right and others start making requests of you.

Takeaway points

  1. Do your homework. Know what you’re about. Know what they’re about.
  2. Do something remarkable or noteworthy in your own right.
  3. Prove you’re serious by producing good work before making your approach.

Action steps

  1. Identify all the influencers you want to reach out to. Assign a number to each influencer. The bigger the number, the more prestigious they are. Now work your way through the list from the lowest number to the highest. As you approach each new number, let them know who you’ve connected with prior. The more influencers you connect with, the easier it becomes to connect with even more, of greater prestige. You build a virtuous circle.
  2. Every day, do something that makes you uncomfortable. Send that email. Start before you feel completely ready. Ask something of someone. Get used to being uncomfortable. If you just did this one thing, you’ll be amazed at the progress you’ll make in a year.
  3. Do something noteworthy. Work on your signature product to build your own authority and credibility in your chosen space. Develop something your target audience will take notice of and fall in love with. You may be surprised that whilst you’re chasing influencers, you become an influencer in your own right.

Photo credit: Pavlína Rupová via Flickr.com / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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