How to Connect With Influencers in Your Niche
Today I want to share some teaching on how to approach influencers and other well known people in your niche (or outside it too).
One of the most powerful ways to grow your profile, audience and brand is to connect with others in your niche. The benefits of doing it can be many and varied – the opportunities that flow from these interactions can be pretty cool for the growth of your blog….
BUT doing it the wrong way can also hurt your blog and brand – so I want to share what NOT to do.
Links and Resources for How to Approach Influencers in Your Niche
- A 10-Point Plan for Connecting with Online Influencers (Without Turning into a Suck-Up)
- Our FB Group
- Our Dallas Event
- Our Australian Events
Good day there. My name is Darren Rowse. I’m the blogger behind ProBlogger.com – a blog, podcast, event, job board, and a series of eBooks, all designed to help you as a blogger to grow an amazing blog, to create great content that’s going to change the life of your readers and to build profit around that blog too. You can learn more about ProBlogger and our upcoming events over at problogger.com.
In today’s episode, episode number 203, I want to share some teaching on how to approach influencers and other well known people in your niche or even outside your niche too. Some of what I’m going to share today actually works really well on a personal level if you admire a comedian, or a musician, or that type of person as well.
One of the most powerful ways to grow your profile, and your audience, and brand is to connect with others in your niche, particularly those who are prominent themselves. The benefits of doing this can be many and varied. The opportunities that can flow from these interactions can be pretty cool for the growth of your blog, but doing it the wrong way can also hurt your blog and brand as well.
Today, I want to share some things to do, the approach that I take with approaching influencers but also some things not to do.
You can find today’s show notes over at problogger.com/podcast/203 where I will share some further reading as well. There’ll also be links on the show notes to our Facebook group, which you can find at problogger.com/group, a thriving group and community of bloggers. We’ve got some new things going in there at the moment which I’ll tell you about at the end of the podcast today.
Also, you’ll find on our show notes today the last chance to get tickets for our Aussie events which are happening in the next few days in Brisbane and Melbourne. You can find more details on those Australian events at problogger.com/events and our Dallas event in Dallas, Texas later in the year, in October at problogger.com/success.
Now, let’s talk about approaching influencers in your niche. Today, we’re talking about how to connect with influencers in your niche. Today’s podcast really comes about after earlier in the week, I listened to a Facebook Live talk by someone else. I’m not going to mention who they are because I’m going to critique what they say. This person was talking about this very topic, how to leverage influencers to grow your blog.
Now, the topic is a good one. As I said at the top of the show, I think that getting to know other people in your niche can bring many benefits to your blog. It’s not just about growing traffic and them sending you traffic. It’s also about growing your profile, growing your credibility, making friends, and helping them as well. It’s a mutual thing in my mind. But after 15 minutes of listening to this Facebook Live, I found myself getting very frustrated, and the reason for this was that the person described a system, a systematized approach that was incredibly formulaic and it was anything but personal.
They actually used a tool to run all of their approaches. The tool I’m not going to name because I really don’t believe in this approach. But the tool itself allowed you to create a sequence of emails that is going to be sent to influencers to get their attention. The emails were all set up ahead of time and depending upon whether the influencer responded to you, it would then send them more emails at different intervals. You can set them up for every 24 hours or every 48 hours.
For example, the first email might be a friendly introductory email where you mention that you’re a fan of their site. If they don’t respond to that, a second email might be, “You might have missed my last email.” The third one might be something funny but a little bit more direct to about, “Why you were ignoring my emails?” The fourth one could be a more direct one, perhaps even strongly worded that you’re disappointed that they didn’t respond.
The person who was teaching this system actually had these templates. As he went through them, I recognized the emails because I get these emails everyday. If the influencer responds at any point, then you can have other emails in the system that you go back, these canned responses asking them to do whatever it is that you’re trying to get them to do. Or you can take over and get a little bit more personal with your responses at that point.
As I listened to this presentation, on some levels, it made sense. I could see how it might work in some cases but what annoyed me most about it was that this person said that once you’ve got this email setup, that you can then scale it and then you can put in 10, or 20, or 100 influencer’s names and email addresses and then get this system going with hundreds of people at once. All you have to do is add in their first name and their site’s URL and then email address and it will just take over and it will run the system for you.
As he described this, it made me remember all the emails that I’ve received that have been the same templated formulaic response. The person doing the Facebook Live said, “If you buy this product,” and it was hundreds of dollars to get this and it was a monthly product as well, they also include all the email addresses of influencers as well, which annoyed me even more because I know I’m on some of those lists. I was pretty annoyed with this presentation.
I guess the main reason that I was annoyed is that I get these emails everyday. I can spot them a mile off. Whilst I didn’t know the name of the tool, I could see what was going on. It might be that these emails are slightly personalized. They usually have my name. Sometimes, they don’t. Sometimes, they say, “Insert name here.” You can see that they forgot to insert the name. They might have my site’s URL but they’re obviously not personal.
When they come at predetermined intervals, every 48 hours in a sequence, I simply trash them and mark them as spam. I don’t like to do that because I like to reply to emails that I get. I do as much as I can. It begins to clutter the inbox and I get 10 or so of these everyday and it wastes a lot of my time.
Here’s the thing though. I know that the bulk of people who are sending those emails and buying these very expensive tools have good intentions. I know some people listening to this podcast probably use them as well. They’re being sold these tools, which can be very expensive and promised amazing results but without knowing it, I know these good people who are using these tools are potentially hurting their brand.
Here’s what I want to say today, is that there are better ways to do it. I talk to big influencers. I’m a small fry but I talk to big influencers and what I experienced personally is just the tip of the iceberg. I spoke to one big influencer last week. He actually asked me not to mention his name but he told me that he gets over 100 emails everyday that are the same formulaic approaches. Many times he looks at the emails and can see that people haven’t even bothered to customize the emails. They’re exactly the same for multiple people. They’re using the swipe files.
It was interesting to chat with him because whilst he was really angry about getting all of these emails and wasting so much time, on the other hand he said, “It’s actually not that hard to get on my radar.” He’s actually someone who is very easy to get in touch with, someone who has collaborated with people many times over who have approached him the right way. But people who go this new automated route never, ever succeed with him. He just trashes them. He marks their emails as spam. It really doesn’t build their brand at all to approach him in this way.
I actually asked this influencer if I could interview him for this particular podcast and he was a bit hesitant to do that because he didn’t want to trigger hate amongst people who were using those tools and he also didn’t want to trigger a flood of people trying to approach him because he’s a very busy guy. He did give me some advice. I’ve compiled it into today’s topic and added some of my own thoughts as well. I really do genuinely hope that these help you, for those of you who are trying to reach out to influencers.
Let me go through some of these tips. The first one is to have realistic expectations. Let me start by saying that whether you use the automation route or whether you take the approach that I’m going to talk about today, not all influencers are going to respond to you. They get a lot of approaches and they have a lot of interactions everyday.
The person that I am actually talking about, this anonymous influencer that I’m basing today’s podcast on, he has over a million social media connections. In fact, there’s several million when you add all the networks together. He gets a ton of approaches everyday, not only the automated one, but other ones as well. He does actually interact at a remarkable level. I just looked at his Twitter account. He replied to over 100 people today in the last 24 hours on Twitter so he’s interacted a lot there. He also did a one hour Q&A session on Facebook Live today.
He does a lot of interacting but even at that level of interaction, he tells me that he’s aware he can’t get back to everyone. He feels bad about it. Now, not at all influencers come anywhere near what this influencer does. They’re busy people. They get approached all day, everyday so don’t be surprised if you either hear nothing back or you might get a response back that isn’t what you hoped for. They may be shutting you down in some way, or are saying no to you, or maybe you got something bad from an assistant and not them personally.
But don’t let this stop you. You never know who you can interact with. Make the approach and try to build a relationship with these influencers but know that not all of them are capable. They just don’t have enough hours in the day in many cases. Don’t let it stop you making the approach but also go in with realistic expectations.
As I said at the top of the show, I’ve actually had some amazing interactions over the years with people that I never thought would respond to me, people in my niches who are much bigger than me, movie stars, singers, comedians, business people, really a variety of different people who I thought would probably ignore my approach but who did get back to me. It’s amazing how approachable people are. It’s amazing how interactive some people are but go into it with realistic expectations and knowing it may not work the way that you expected it. That’s my number one tip. Be realistic.
Number two, don’t stalk. Don’t be stalker. All of what I’m going to share with you today is about being useful, it’s about helping influencers, it’s about reaching out and helping to give them a win, about helping them to achieve what they want to achieve. But if you’re not careful, some of what I’m going to share today can look a little bit like stalking. Yes, be enthusiastic, reach out, but be aware of not overstepping boundaries and maybe have an accountability buddy that you share what you’re doing with them, bounce your ideas around so that they can maybe say to you, “Hey, that’s starting to look a bit stalker-ish.” Just be aware that when you are reaching out, people are willing to interact with you but don’t overstep the boundaries. I’ll touch on that a few times during today’s episode.
Number three tip is to be someone worth knowing, which sounds a little bit odd. When you reach out to someone, the chances are that before they respond, particularly if you’re asking them something, asking them to do something, or approaching them in a personal way, many times, before they reply to you, they will do a bit of digging. They will check out who you are. They will do some research. They might check out your blog. They might look on your social media accounts. They’re going to want to know who this person is that’s making an approach.
I guess the question I want to ask is what are they going to find? Perhaps the best thing you can do before you start reaching out to people is to build something worth being found. Show that you’re a genuine person, that you’re a credible person, that you’re a trustworthy person, that you have expertise perhaps, or that other people like you. Build some social proof. I know this is hard if you’re just starting out. You can’t just conjure this stuff up but the more that you can show that you’re a worthwhile person, that you’re worth being known in some way, the more likely they are to respond in a positive way. This takes time to build of course.
Even if it’s your Twitter account, does your Twitter account look good? When they look at your Twitter account, are they going to see you complaining all the time about things? Are they going to see you talking about the topic that they’re interested in? You can think about what are they going to think when they dig a little bit deeper? Work hard at creating a great blog or a great podcast, a great Twitter account, a great whatever it is that you do so that when they do a little bit of digging, they will be interested, they’ll be intrigued. They will see you as a potentially credible source of information and worth being known.
This is all before you even make the approach. This is something just to keep working on, I guess.
Number four tip is to know them before you know them. That is to do a little bit of research, to do a little bit of preparation. Most of what I’m going to share today can be helped a lot by doing a little bit of work before you make the approach. Try to understand who the person is. Try to understand what their goals are, what their motives are, knowing a little bit about their history. What is their story? What are their values? What do they like? What do they dislike? Knowing all of these things will help you to create a better impression and to serve them better. It will inform the approach that you take.
Do a little bit of digging. Look at their social media accounts. Read their blog if they’ve got one. Listen to their podcast. Try to understand who they are underneath the fact that they’re an influencer. Again, this is one of those areas you don’t want to be stalking them. You don’t want to be trying to hack into their Facebook account or getting too personal, but having an understanding of who they are is going to go a long way.
The other thing that’s a part of this is to do a little bit of research into where they engage most. This is really important. They might have a Twitter account but do they engage on their Twitter account or are they using it more to broadcast? They may actually prefer to do their engaging on LinkedIn, or they may prefer to do their engagement in Facebook group, or they may prefer to do it via Facebook Live. Really, most influencers have a variety of social media accounts but if you go and do some analysis, you’ll find that they have a preferred place that they like to interact.
Sometimes, they communicate this. Sometimes, if you look at their contact page on their blog, they might say, “Hey, I hang out in this Facebook group a lot. Come and ask me questions there.” Sometimes, you need to do a little more digging as well.
I’m a good example of this. I have a lot of social media accounts. I don’t use Instagram very much at all. I do have the account there. When I go on holidays, I tend to post more there but I don’t tend to interact much there. I’ve got a Twitter account where I interact a little bit more but for me, Facebook is where I interact more: Facebook group, Facebook Lives that I do on certain times at the week as well. If you were to dig into me, you would find that Facebook is probably a better place to begin to build those relationships. I’m trying to communicate that more and more as well to help people to find me where I’m most accessible.
Do a bit of research into who the person is.
Once you’ve done that research, one of the key things that you should be thinking about is what are the goals of this influencer? How can I serve them? I guess the fifth thing that I want to say is to serve. Serve first, ask later would be the tip that I’d give you. In your research, what are they trying to achieve? What are their goals? What are their passions? What are the outcomes that they are looking for? Most influencers, it’s fairly obvious what they’re trying to achieve. There might be an offer. They’re probably trying to sell more books. They may be a podcaster. They’re probably trying to get more listeners to their podcast.
Begin to think about what is it that they want, what is a win for them, and how can I give them a win in some way. Some of the wins that online influencers are wanting are going to be pretty obvious. For example, if they’re a blogger, most of them are going to want to increase their reach. They’re going to want either more traffic, or a bigger audience, or a bigger profile. That’s something that most online influencers are going to want. That doesn’t come and go. It’s just something that they all typically want.
Most online influencers want engagement. Most online influencers want some kind of conversion, some sort of monetization. They’re trying to sell something whether it’s a product, or a service, or getting people to a website where they convert by getting people to look at their ads. Most online influencers are also trying to create content. These are things that influencers are interested in. I guess the question is how can you serve them? How can you help them to achieve those goals? I’m going to dig into those things in a moment.
There are also other times in an influencers life where they will want something specific, something that’s a little bit more time sensitive, that they may be looking for a particular outcome over the next week or over the next month. These are really key things to latch into and to understand. Are they launching a new book? Are they launching a new product or a new service? Are they supporting a not for profit project that they’re passionate about? Are they launching a new social media account or exploring a new medium that they’re trying to get more traction on? Maybe they’re launching a YouTube account or they just started doing Facebook Lives.
When influencers are starting new things or they’re promoting something specific, two things happen. One, they get really busy but two, they often become very open to being approached if you can help them with that particular thing. If you noticed an influencer doing something time specific, this can, at times, be a great time to approach them. They may be more open to engaging in some way if you are in a position to help them with an outcome that they’re looking for. Be aware of their ongoing wins that they’re looking for, the outcomes that they’re looking for, but also, be really aware of those key times when they’re about to launch something. Often, they’ll tell you when it’s coming.
I was looking at one online influencer the other day and he said he’s got a new course coming out next month. That’s a signal that maybe I should be reaching out to him and saying, “Hey, I noticed you’ve got this launch coming up. Can I interact with you? Can I support you in that in some way?” Be aware of those types of things. What I want to do now is just look at some of those objectives that an influencer might have. Some of them are more of the ongoing ones. Hopefully, this will give you a few more tangible tactical things that you can do, although I hesitate to use that word, tactical, because I really do want this to be about relationship.
Don’t systematize it. Don’t see this as a tactic. Actually be a good human being and build a relationship with them in some ways because ultimately, that’s going to give you and the other person the biggest win and it’s going to be a lot more fun and satisfying along the way as well.
What are some of the objectives that an influencer might have that you could help with? The first one might be that they are looking for engagement. They might want more engagement in some way. The influencer might be a blogger. They might be a podcaster. They might be a video blogger, doing a live video. In all of this cases, one of the things they want is people to engage with what they do. It’s just not satisfying as a blogger or a live video to create great content and to have no one interact with it in any way.
One of the simplest things that you can do is to comment. Leave comments, leave replies on their blog posts. Reply to their social media. Don’t just say that was good, nice post. Go the extra mile by being constructive, by adding something to what they’re doing. If they ask questions, answer the questions. If they’re teaching something, give some examples of their teaching. Ask questions of them.
One of the things that I think can really get on people’s attention is when you go above and beyond with the comments that you leave. I can think back a number of times over the last year where people have gone above and beyond leaving comments on my blog, on my Facebook, in the Facebook group, actually showing that they are not just reading and saying nice posts but that they’re actually interested in engaging in some way. That’s one of the most satisfying things for a blogger, a podcaster, or someone on social media.
Be highly engaged. Add to the conversation in some way. That’s great. Being a highly engaged audience member is great but you can actually take this further when it comes to this idea of helping someone to build engagement. You can actually help them to build community as well. One of the things I’ve noticed is that there’s real opportunity to join in and help influencers build this community around what they’re doing.
Let me give you a really good example of this. This is about six or seven years ago. I noticed a blogger was running a Twitter chat. It was a Twitter chat that was fairly well attended in their particular niche and I decided to join in on that Twitter chat. This blogger had never run a Twitter chat before and so I decided to make myself an unofficial community manager for this Twitter chat. I know I didn’t tell the blogger I was doing it and I didn’t want to be too over the top with it so I kind of restrained myself a little bit.
But I decided I was going to ask some good questions and I was going to respond to as many people as I could in that Twitter chat. My goal is not to build my profile. My goal was to make it the best Twitter chat that it could possibly be. At the end of the Twitter chat, the other blogger messaged me privately and said, “Hey, that was amazing. Could you come back next week to do it as well?”
They didn’t actually know me from ProBlogger. They didn’t know my profile whatsoever. It was actually completely off topic and random that I was on this particular Twitter chat but I had participated in Twitter chats before. I knew what made a good Twitter chat and so I decided just to be the best participant in that community that I could.
By me doing that, it actually drew others into the conversation. They actually really value that. If someone’s doing a Facebook Live, don’t just leave comments answering their questions or asking them questions. Take notice of the other people on the chat and respond to their questions. Say, “Yeah, that’s a good idea.” Not just to the person doing the Facebook Live, but to other people who are commenting as well. Ask them questions. Try and engage them. Welcome them into the community.
You want to be a little bit careful here. You can go too far with this. This is where you can be seen to be almost trying to take over someone else’s community. You want to be very careful there. Don’t stalk them. Don’t come across in a way that you’re just trying to build your own profile. You want to be really careful that you’re being seen as someone who’s serving that community in some way.
Another thing that could work at this kind of juncture is to actually volunteer in some way. It maybe after you’ve done some of this type of thing and try to build engagement, you might want to reach out to the influencers and say, “Hey, I’ve really enjoyed your Facebook Lives. Would it be helpful if someone was to assist you in them in some way? I’m happy to volunteer my time.” Or maybe it’s a Twitter chat, “I’m happy to participate in that. Could I prepare some questions for you? Can I serve you in any way to help you to make that Twitter chat run better?” It may be that it’s better to participate and then volunteer to take on those type of roles as well.
Another role that you might want to volunteer to participate in is to moderate in the Facebook group as well, although you probably want to be a good, active member of the community before you’d make that kind of volunteering offer.
Help someone to build engagement I guess is the first thing that is going to help them to have a win. Another thing that many influencers are trying to do is to build traffic and reach to build their profile. This is a goal that most online influencers want to achieve so how can you help them to do that? You may not have a massive audience yourself. You may not think that you’re going to be able to send them any traffic but even you attempting to help them can be a powerful thing, something that’s going to get on their radar.
A few practical things that you can do to help them to grow their audience, share their stuff, share their content, retweet their tweets if you think it’s going to be relevant to your audience, and take their blog posts and share them on your social media, link to them from your blog. You may even want to reach out to them and ask, “Can I interview you on my blog to introduce you to my audience?” Sometimes, that may not be possible. They might not be willing to invest the time into an interview but even just sending them a simple question that you get their opinion on, a one question interview, “Hey, could you answer this question? I would use it in my blog.” Those types of things expose your audience to this particular influence and help them to grow their profile.
If they’re not interested in that type of interview type of thing, maybe just do a case study on them. Maybe you can find enough information on what they’ve done and what they’ve achieved in the past so you can write a case study on who they are, how they’ve grown their business, how they’ve grown their influence. You might find a quote and use one of their quotes in your articles.
Link to them from other places. Maybe you write guest posts for other blogs. Don’t just link in your guest posts to your own content, link to other influencers. This happened to me a few years ago now. A blogger that I’ve never heard of before wrote a post in a big business publication. It was a guest post. It wasn’t something that were paid for. That link in their article, I think it was from Businessweek or Forbes, one of those, that sent a ton of traffic across to my site. This blogger could never have sent me that much traffic but by getting an article in a bigger publication and linking to me from that, they certainly got on my radar. You’re writing guest posts, don’t promote yourself, promote other people. See that as an opportunity to help someone else achieve their goals as well.
Maybe giving a talk, a presentation, mention these influencers in those talks as well. It’s amazing how many times people will tweet the influencer that you’re talking about in a talk on those occasions. It may be that you can introduce that influencer to someone else that they need to meet, that might help them. Be a connector. Perhaps, you can’t send them traffic directly but perhaps, you could suggest to another blogger that they link to something that this person has written. Actually be the connector. Help to set them up in some way.
Maybe you could recommend that someone in mainstream media interview them. I remember years ago now, a reader of Digital Photography School, when I was just starting out that blog, they got me an interview in The New York Times. Just as I was starting my blog, this reader thought I was doing something interesting and so they sent a random email to a reporter at The New York Times and that reporter emailed me and asked me to interview me. Maybe you could be that type of person to help them to grow in some way.
Help them to build their audience. When you do these types of things, let them know what you’re doing. You don’t need to boast about it, but if you’ve linked to them in your blog, if you’ve linked to them in a guest post, just send them an email or send them a message saying, “Hey, I mentioned you here.” That is enough. That will get on their radar. Send them a quick message, those types of things.
The accumulation of all those little things that you can be doing, that actually has a big impact. If the influencer is trying to sell something, how can you help them to sell more of that thing? Maybe you could become an affiliate, maybe you could write a review of their products and services, maybe you can recommend their product on social media, but here’s one of the cool things that you can do. Send them a testimonial. People who are selling stuff, they love getting testimonials that they can use. If someone’s selling an ebook, buy the ebook and send them a paragraph of what you think about that ebook that they can then use.
You may even want to send a photo. But here’s even cooler. Send them a video. Send them a video testimonial. Send them an audio testimonial if they have got a podcast. These types of things are going to help them to sell more of their thing. Again, it’s all about trying to work out what is it that they’re trying to achieve and how can you be useful in that.
Another last thing that you can do, many influencers are trying to create content. You can participate in the content creation process. It may be that you have an idea for a blog post that they could write, something that they’ve never written about before. You may even go to the effort of putting a title and three points that they could cover into it. Actually help them to create that blog post. Maybe it’s about asking them questions that they might want to write about.
Maybe, you could actually create some content for them as well. Maybe, you could create a little jingle for their podcast. Maybe, you could create a meme that they could share on social media. Maybe, you could create a social graphic that they could share that promotes one of their posts. Create some little pieces of content that they can share. It may not be much, but even just little things that can be useful to them, little graphics that they can use on their Twitter account, for example. Things that they can use in their own content, to improve their content. It’s actually going to make you the impression.
Maybe, it’s doing research for them into a particular topic. Maybe, it’s finding some data that they might find useful. Maybe, it’s even letting them know if there’s an error in their content, a spelling mistake or something that’s not quite working or a broken link. You need to be a bit careful about those ones. You want to probably do it in private if you can, not call them out, be polite, and be kind in a way that you critique those types of things. But those are the types of things that help them to create better content. That makes an impression upon people.
A few more tips. This is a big one. This probably already comes through a few times in what I’ve said, but it’s to be human. Whilst I’m calling these influencers influencers, they’re not really influencers. They’re human beings. They have good days. They have bad days. They get hurt. They get angry. They feel joy. They have questions and problems of their own as well as questions and solutions that they give other people, so answer their questions.
If they are tweeting that they’ve got a question or they’ve got a problem, research the solution to that problem, actually serve them in that way. Support the courses and passions that they have. Encourage them when you notice they’re going through a tough time. If they’re tweeting about a problem they’ve got, send them a word of encouragement. Celebrate their wins. Notice their efforts. Notice the things that they’re trying to do. Notice their strengths. Laugh with them.
One of the best things you can do is people often blow off steam on Twitter. They might mention that they’re watching Game of Thrones, the season opener of that. Some light hearted banter, a well timed pun, sharing a funny GIF or a meme can go a long way, even if it’s completely off topic. If they have shown a part of themselves to be human, show a part of yourself to be human as well. Maybe even send them a gift. You want to be a bit careful about gifts. You don’t want to do anything too creepy there, but you know, a meaningful gift, something physical that you can send them in the post, can actually go a long way as well.
I did this a few years ago. I noticed a movie star. I’m not going to mention who it is because I don’t want a big note, but this particular movie star was starting a blog. This was 10 years ago now. I decided to send this movie star my book in the post. I didn’t really do it with the agenda that they would link to it or anything and they didn’t but I got this really nice email back saying, “Hey, thanks. No one else really noticed I started my blog. It didn’t really work but I appreciate you reaching out in that way.” Those types of things can really create a big impression. Be human.
Another thing to try is to be memorable where you can. This is really hard. It’s not always possible to do. But if you could do something out of the blue, something surprising, or something funny, or something really smart, or something really generous, that can actually create a memory that can be a very powerful thing. It may also be a part of your brand. It can help you to stand out.
For example, I know one blogger who’s brand is that he always wears bright colored eyeglasses. He must have 50 pairs of them. Almost everyday, he wears a different pair of glasses. It’s part of his brand. It’s the type of thing that people remember. Again, it’s not something you can just do but if you can build something memorable into the approaches that you make, that can really go a long way not only to a first impression, but to create a first impression that lasts in some way. Maybe, it’s the way you use your sense of humor.
This is another one to be a bit careful about. But I know one blogger who’s very good at giving constructive criticism. He gets on really big influencer’s radars by doing something that feels really risky. He points out things that they could improve upon. He does it in such a way that the person actually feels really good about it. You might find a mistake in something that they’ve written or an improvement that they could make to some content that they’ve made or to a product. He points out what are their weaknesses but he has this way of doing it that the person actually feels like he’s being very constructive, very generous, and very helpful.
If you want to take that approach, it feels risky to do it but it can actually create a massive impression. I’ve seen this happen to me a number of times. One example that comes to mind is when I started this podcast. A few weeks after launching this podcast, I got an email from one of our event attendees at an Aussie ProBlogger event, an attendee called Rachelle Colbert.
Rachelle has experience in radio and television and so she’s someone who I knew about. We’ve not really spoken a great deal but she sent me an email on this day, a few weeks after my podcast launched. She had recorded me a personal podcast. It was like 20 or 30 minutes of advice, of ways that I can improve my podcast. She pointed out the things that I wasn’t so good at and things that I wasn’t doing in a good way. She’s actually a radio person so I knew she had some credibility there. One of the reasons I probably did persist with all 20 minutes of that recording was that I knew she was going to give good advice. But I could also tell through her recording that she genuinely wanted to help and she wasn’t just being critical, she was being constructively critical. That really came across in the way she said it.
If you do it, if you want to stand out and be memorable by pointing out criticism, be constructive, show you care, and do it in private where you can as well. Be genuine with your criticism. This example really leads me to my next point, is to personalize your approach.
In this world where influencers are being bombarded by automated personality-less approaches, make your communications as personal as you can. Rachelle sending me a 20 minute personal podcast that no one else would ever listen to, for her going to that length to send me a message, no one’s ever done that for me before. 20 minutes may have been too long if I hadn’t known who she was in the past and we’ve not interacted before but the medium she chose was really smart. Record an audio that allows the person to hear your voice, to understand you are genuine, to hear some of your personality, and to be reminded that it’s a human being on the other side of the approach and not just words on the screen.
Sending audio is so easy to do. Facebook Messenger now allows it. You can record it on your computer and send it in an email. There are so many ways to send audio. Another option is to record video. I’m seeing this more and more lately, people sitting in front of a webcam or a phone or even doing a Screencast and sending that video. It shows that you’ve gone through some effort and that you’re a person as well.
Lastly, I guess, with personal approaches, when possible, meeting the person in person can create a really positive impression too. Just don’t stalk. Here’s my advice again. Don’t stalk. Also, be aware that if you’re approaching someone at a conference, it may not be the best time for them to remember you because they’re probably being approached by a lot of people. If they’re a speaker at a conference, often, they’re being bombarded by people asking questions. So, yes, meet them but follow up with another message, whether it be text, or video, or a message on social media in some way.
A few last tips, a really quick one. Where you can leverage mutual connections, sometimes, getting someone else that the influencer knows to introduce you, can speed things up. I find that really works a lot. Using something like LinkedIn which allows you to do that can be one way to do that, but I personally would try and do it in another way because a lot of people are introducing people on LinkedIn that they don’t really know. If there’s a mutual connection, leverage that in some way if you can.
One of the last things I want to say is to really focus upon building these kind of relationships before you need something. This is the last thing I would say is I get a lot of first contacts from people that come with an ask. Whilst I certainly am open to responding and working with people that I’ve never heard of before, the reality is I’m much more likely to want to connect with someone and help someone that I feel like I’ve had an ongoing connection with. I’m much more open to people asking me to do things or asking me for a favor or asking me to participate in what they’re doing if that relationship didn’t start with that.
Start these relationships with an open ended attitude. I really love what Sonia Simone over at Copyblogger writes on this particular topic. She actually has a really great article that I’ll link to in the show notes today, with 10 tips for connecting with influencers. Some of it has got some overlap with what I’ve said today but she actually uses some tactical advice as well that I haven’t covered. But the last thing she says, I want to read it to you. I hope Simone doesn’t mind. Her last point is it doesn’t always work the way you thought it would.
This is what she wrote. She says, “Way back when I started my first blog, I secretly imagined that one day, I was going to have tea and crumpets with Seth Godin everyday. Turns out, I can’t really eat crumpets. All that gluten is not good for me. Also, possibly more to the point, Seth just wasn’t that interested. To be clear, he’s always been very nice, just not on the daily crumpets level nice. On my path, one of my goals was to someday develop a good working relationship with Seth Godin. Things didn’t work out exactly as I had visualized but a bunch of other good things happened on that path and I did end up building great working relationships with lots of other amazing people. You have to follow the path you’re actually on, which sometimes bears only slight resemblance to the one that was originally in your head. The plan is nothing. Planning is everything, Dwight Eisenhower once said. Do have goals. Do have some folks in mind that you’d love to create professional relationships with and then do a bunch of epic stuff. Be a good egg. Know your topic and make yourself useful and see where the real path leads. It’s going to be somewhere good. Just be ready for a few interesting twists.”
I think this is so important and it really comes back to I guess what I said at the top, many times you’ll try and get to know someone, you’ll reach out to an influencer, sometimes, they won’t reply, sometimes, it will lead to nothing at all, but sometimes, it will lead to something that you didn’t expect. Many of the times that I’ve approached people, I’ve approached with one thing in mind and something else comes out of that interaction as well. It may be that that person is a stepping stone to meeting someone else. It may be that what you pitch that person, ask that person, they say no to but they have another idea that could end up being a fruitful collaboration in some way.
Build the relationships first. Actually reach out to people and who knows where these things will lead to.
Now, last thing I want to do with this episode is to finish off with some words that my anonymous influencer friend wrote down for me to share. It’s his list of five things to do and five things not to do. This is what he writes. He says don’t be a robot. Don’t give false flattery. Don’t be negative or a gossip. Don’t be a fan boy or a fan girl. Don’t be selfish.
And then his do’s, he says be generous, be constructive, be confident, be engaging, and be human. I hope something of what I’ve shared today is helpful to you. Reach out to influencers. You never know where these things may lead to.
You can find today’s show notes with that link to Sonia Simone’s amazing article over on Copyblogger. The show notes are at problogger.con/podcast/203.
Last thing I’ll say, and I hinted this at the top of the show, is that we’ve made some changes in our ProBlogger Facebook group over the last week. The group is now growing. It’s almost up to 8,000 members. As things grow, we need to adapt, evolve, and change things up. A few things that we’ve done, firstly, we have changed it from being a public group to a closed group. It’s not secret but now, if you’ll look at it and you’re not a member, you can’t see what’s going on inside, which makes it a little bit more private. A few people were reporting that threads were showing up in their friends’ feeds and things like that. Now, that won’t happen. If you want to ask questions and you don’t want your readers or other people to see it, only people in the community are going to see them.
We’ve also started using hashtags in our group a lot more. I’ve asked people to only start new threads that start with one or two hashtags. Either ask, #ask, and in that case, you are asking a question or #tip, where you are leaving a tip. We really want the group to be a place where people help one another. So they’re asking questions, talking about the problems that they have, and sharing tips that they’ve got as well.
We also asked people not to share links in the group as well. We’ve all been part of Facebook groups where it’s just the link sharing goes on and on. It becomes a very self promotional place. We’ve asked people to actually share the advice that they’ve got in the thread itself with the tip rather than sharing a link to something that they’ve written elsewhere. That certainly helped to cut down the amount of threads that we’ve got, but also made the threads we’ve got more useful.
The last thing we’ve been doing in the Facebook group is regular thread. Every Monday, we’re now doing goals. What’s your goal of the week thread. I start that or Laney, who works with me starts that off and then everyone responds to that. That’s Mondays. Wednesdays is hump day hurdles. What is the biggest challenge you’ve got this week? What’s the problem that you’ve got this week? It’s about sharing those problems but then we encourage people to be the solution to the problems that each other has and so you share your problem then you look through the list and find someone else that has a problem that you can be a solution for. That’s on Wednesdays.
Fridays is win day. That’s a day where we invite you to share something that you’ve done during the week that has been a win. That is an opportunity for you to point at a post that you’ve written or to link to something that you’ve feel proud about. We are allowing you to share your links and those types of things, but only in those types of threads as well.
We had some really positive responses to what we’re doing in the group. I get a lot of personal messages from people saying, “Thank you. This group has helped me level up in my blogging.” If you are looking for a community that’s supportive, that’s really positive, very constructive, do join the Facebook group. Go to problogger.com/group and you’ll be forwarded into the Facebook group, or you’ll find a link to that in our show notes, or if you do a search on Facebook as well.
Thanks so much for listening to this podcast. I’m amazed every week when I look at the stats of the amount of people who are engaging, listening, and sharing the journey with us in this. It’s a real honor to be a part of that and I look forward to connecting with you maybe at one of our events in the coming weeks or in our Facebook group as well.
The last thing I’ll say is that over the next couple of weeks, I will be at our Australian events as this podcast goes out. We’ve got a bit of a special treat for you for the next two episodes of the podcast as well. Be a bit different to normal so I hope you enjoy what we’ve got planned for you while I’m off at the ProBlogger events. We’re going to give you a taste of what goes on at our events in this podcast.
Thanks for listening and I’ll chat with you next week in one of those episodes, episode 204.
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