You are the hero of your own life.
But every hero needs an even bigger hero to champion their cause now and then.
Those bigger heroes are called influencers.
They’re the people who are decision makers or who can sway large groups of people, or, at least, the people you need to reach. And there’s an art to engaging them.
Influencers often include (but are not limited to):
- business leaders
- community leaders
But really, they’re anyone one person who can help you achieve your goals or reach the people who can.
They may be people you have met. They may be people you would like to get to know.
Whomever they are, they are important; and you have to manage them carefully.
A big part of my job involves engaging influencers in discussions important to the projects I’m working on.
But to some, I am an influencer, a conduit to others or to large groups of people who can help others move the needle on their issues and projects.
In other words, I have seen the influencer game from both sides.
We talk about media a lot elsewhere on the site, so let’s leave them aside this time and concentrate on others for the moment.
Here’s what you need to know
- Keep in touch
Don’t blast out from the past and suddenly announce you need a favour. Social Media makes it easy to stay in touch with people from your past. Know someone who can help you.If you are likely to need the help of someone you know down the line, stay in touch with them
- Get SocialSocial is by far the easiest way to meet influencers you don’t yet know, particularly Twitter. Make sure you engage them around the conversations they are already having. Nothing worse than just having people you don’t know pitching you random things that have nothing to do with what you are working on or thinking about when you were interrupted
- Better yet, be helpful and engagingAdd value to them when you can. Like their social posts, share their blogs and articles. In other words, invest in people you might need to reach out to so they don’t feel like all you ever do is take, take, take.
- Be authentically thoughtful
I once sent a note to a reporter offering condolences when I learned that a colleague with whom he frequently worked had died. I did it because it was the right thing to do and I could imagine how he must have felt.He was very touched and, as a result, I always got a personal response very quickly whenever I sent him a pitch, even though he worked at one of the busiest news outlets in the world. But if I’d done it just to get closer to him, he’d have seen through it and it would have backfired.
- Respect their timeBe thoughtful in your outreach. Send them things that have high relevance to their interests or work. Be thoughtful in who you introduce them to. If an influencer is doing you a favour, the last thing they want to be is introduced to others who are looking for free advice or help.
- Take their advice or move on
If you ask someone with a solid track record for advice, take it. It’s deeply frustrating for an influencer to invest time into an organization or person who asks for help and then ignores it. If you elect not to follow their advice, restrain yourself from going back to them a year later when your campaign is a disaster and you need help thinking your way out of it UNLESS it comes with a massive mea culpa.
Influencer marketing is really just a fancy phrase for managing the relationships that matter most to your career and objectives. Treat people the way they should be treated and you’ll go far.