Building relationships with others is just as important as building your business. In fact, the two often go hand in hand as most of the time, one can’t be achieved without the other.
Whether you are dealing with clients, customers or potential partners, building relationships is crucial to the long term success of your business.
When you build relationships with others, it allows you to-
- Meet new potential customers and clients
- Collaborate with other businesses
- Pull your resources and knowledge together
- Establish yourself as an authority or influencer in your field
- Increase your network
- Grow the reputation of your brand
- Be inspired by other businesses and thought leaders
As you can see, there are so many benefits to building relationships. After all most of us have heard the saying- it is not what you know but who you know.
This is why reaching out to influencers in your field is definitely worth the time, effort and potential rejection.
Influencers are defined as people who have established themselves as an authority in their field.
Often influencers themselves have a wide network and can put you in contact with everything from investors, to clients and customers, freelancers and more.
When you reach out to influencers and collaborate, it can help to rapidly advance and grow your business. It can also help to solidify the reputation of your brand.
In fact, if you ask any successful company, most of the time they got to the top through their connections and meeting the right people at the right time.
Surrounding yourself with influencers in your industry can also be extremely inspiring and can help to ignite creative new ideas and keep you motivated.
Learning from influencers in your field can also be extremely valuable in the long run and can save your business time and money when it comes to researching your audience and finding new customers.
At first it can feel nerve-wracking to reach out to people to start building your network, but in this article we are going to share with you some fool proof ways to make it happen.
By following these simple steps, you will be an expert when it comes to building relationships, especially with top level influencers in your field.
Step 1: Know your Strengths and Weaknesses as a Brand
The first step before reaching out to influencers is learning the strengths and weaknesses of your brand.
This is going to allow you to better determine the type of influencers you should be reaching out to.
There is no sense in just reaching out to influencers because they have a large social media following or because their Instagram is studded with pictures of famous celebrities, you have to instead think strategically.
The best influencers to reach out to are the ones that are going to help you capitalise on your strengths and build on your weaknesses. By determining these factors for your business first, it can help you to know who is best to reach out to.
When it comes to determining your strengths think about the products and services that your company offers but also why your customers come to you over your competition.
What sets your company apart from the rest? Is it your approach to customer service? Do you have a different way of doing things?
Come up with a few of your strengths as a brand so you are familiar with what you can offer your influencers in return as well.
When it comes to determining your weaknesses, keep your attention focused on things you would like to improve.
Perhaps ask yourself what areas of your business could be improved to maximise your performance and to grow sales. Think of your ultimate goal and then see what areas could be improved.
Once you have determined the strengths and weaknesses of your brand, you can then find the perfect influencers.
Step 2: Find the Perfect Influencers
Once you have determined your strengths and weaknesses, the idea is that you want to reach out to influencers that are going to help push your strengths to that next level and help you with your weaknesses.
Look at all the influencers in your field and observe what they do best. Look at their perceived strengths and weaknesses and see how they interact with their clients, customers and other brands.
Once you have found the influencers that can help boost your strengths and fix your weaknesses, the next step is to think about how to best approach them.
If the influencers in your field are popular and well respected, chances are it is going to be harder to get a response, which means you have to do your research.
Step 3: Research your Influencers
Once you have created a shortlist of influencers that you would like to reach out to and that you feel could really help you and your business, you need to research them.
Check out any articles or blog posts they have written, read their profile on LinkedIn and browse through their social media pages to see what information you can collect.
This is not about “stalking” the person, but rather engaging in their brand and what makes them so influential.
Pay attention to any podcasts they speak on, any talks or seminars they have done, any magazines they write for and so on. This is going to help you when you start reaching out to them.
Also, pay attention to any similarities that you may have or things that you can relate to.
For example, you may see that your influencer took a trip to a destination you have been to as well, or you may see that your influencer also likes a similar type of music or TV show.
Sometimes after doing research on your influencer you may also find that they are no longer a good fit or that you are not a fan of their message.
If this happens, trust your instincts and don’t feel like you have to follow through just because you think you should.
When it comes to building relationships, the foundation has to be genuine otherwise it is likely that the connection is never really going to serve you well.
Step 4: Engage with your Influencer on Social Media Platforms
Once you have researched your chosen influencers, you may have a better understanding of what platforms they frequent and how they reach their audience.
You now need to use this understanding in order to engage with them.
Thanks to the popular emergence of social media, the best way to start getting on their radar is responding and commenting on their social posts.
If you see that your influencer has posted an article on Facebook for example, read it and then leave a comment. Make sure you comment is either praising them for their work or asking a question.
You may have to do this on a few of their platforms to begin with, but the idea is that you want to start getting them familiar with your brand and your name.
Even if they don’t directly reply, the more they see your name, the more likely that are to respond or reply back when you do start sending more personalised messages.
This psychological hack can make your name sound familiar to them, which increases your chances of getting a reply and an introduction.
When it comes to engaging on social media, again, being genuine is key. Don’t force yourself to say something or to reach out if you are not feeling it.
When in doubt, the best thing you can do is engage with compliments and positivity, as you can never go wrong with this.
Step 5: Send a Personalised Message
Once you have engaged on social media, the next step is to send a personalised message.
Doing this over email is probably best, but you can also send personalised messages over social media as well.
When it comes to writing your personalised message, the most important thing is to have a goal in mind. Do you-
- a.) Want to interview this person for your blog/podcast/webinar?
- b.) Want to receive advice from this person?
- c.) Want to build a relationship for a future strategy?
- d.) Want an introduction to their network or investors or clients etc.?
- e.) Want to collaborate in some way?
- f.) Simply want to connect with another like-minded thinker?
No matter what your goal with reaching out is, keeping it in mind is going to help you write a message with purpose and importance.
Of course, you don’t have to share your goal with your influencer, the idea is that it is there to help you.
Once you have your goal in mind, you can start crafting your message.
Here are some helpful pointers to keep in mind –
- Briefly introduce yourself – mention who you are, what you do, and your success in your field. Keep this to a maximum of 2 sentences if possible.
- Explain what prompted you to reach out– let them know why you find them so impressive and why you love or appreciate what that they are doing. Compliment them for their work and perhaps even mention you love their article or interview- be specific if you can.
*Helpful Hint: there is a strategy out there that states the best way to get an influencer to respond is to critique their work, let them know what they are doing wrong and then offer suggestions. While this type of message may get a response, it is not likely to build a very solid relationship. No one wants to feel criticised, so be mindful of using this as a tactic.
- Let them know you would like to connect- mention you would love to connect with them on a personal level, this could be with a phone call, Skype session or even in person. When you offer this, try to make it as easy as possible for your influencer to say yes. Keep everything simple and easy and perhaps even offer a time frame that you are available.
*Helpful Hint: if you notice that your influencer is going to be at an event that you will be attending, mention that you are going to be there and that you would love to catch up at the event.
- Offer something in return: another important feature of your message is offering the influencer something of value in return. This could be an introduction to someone in your own network, a collaborative effort, a service and so on. Keep your offer meaningful, yet simple. You don’t want to come across as desperate by offering too much.
- Don’t be pushy- remember that your influencer probably receives many emails every day. In order to make your email stand out from the crowd, ensure that you are not pushy and you are also personable.
- Add a personal touch- the last step to writing your message is to add a personal touch. This is a sentence or two that adds something unique to your message. It could be as simple as making a joke, or commenting on something relatable. For example- “I noticed you recently went to Paris, I am fluent in French if you ever need lessons for next time!” Try to find something that you can add to make your message memorable.
- Give a free gift: another strategy that you may want to experiment with is offering a free gift. This could be your latest book or even promotional merchandise. Often when you offer something for free, people are more likely to respond and find ways to return the favour.
Keep your message as short as possible and to the point. Don’t go into lengthy detail about anything and don’t beat around the bush. Just be forward and straight up.
Step 6: Play the Waiting Game
Once you have sent off your message, the next step is to simply wait. This can be the hard part, so don’t get caught up checking your inbox or messenger app every day. If they are going to reply, they will.
In the meantime, keep commenting and engaging with them on social media. If after a few days you have still not heard back, write a comment on one of their public feeds that you sent them a personal message.
Calling them out in public may help you to get a response faster and may help your name to become more recognisable in their inbox.
It is also important to keep in mind that some social networks block messages from unknown senders or people not in your “network”.
If you suspect this may be the case, consider sending your message on multiple platforms, or sourcing their personal email address.
Step 7: The Reply
Once your influencer has finally replied to your message, the ball is in your court. From this point forward it is up to you to build a genuine and personable relationship.
Keep in mind this will take time and perhaps even multiple meetings. In fact, experts suggest that it takes the average person 12 points of contact in order to build a solid relationship.
These points of contact can include everything from an email exchange to a handshake or even a Skype meeting. But remember, you need 12 of them in order to really establish a relationship.
As you prepare to connect with your influencer, take a moment to think about what types of gestures and behaviour you prefer when someone is reaching out to you, and take this into consideration as much as possible.
Essentially, treat people how you would like to be treated.
Another valuable tip is to make sure that there is something valuable for both parties involved.
At least in the beginning, when you are both getting to know each other, there has to be something mutually beneficial or things are not really going to get anywhere.
If you are not having any luck with your chosen influencers, perhaps you will need to go back to the drawing board and see if you can offer something of greater value.
Step 8: Keep Growing and Expanding your Network
And finally, the last step is to keep growing and expanding your network. The more influencers and connections you can make in your industry the better, so don’t just settle for one.
The good thing about meeting influencers is that in time you will meet their network and very soon your connections will just grow and grow.
It also becomes easier to grow your connections once you are apart of a few big networks. In fact, very soon people will be using these tactics on you!
The benefits of building relationships with influencers speak for themselves.
By taking these simple steps, you can find the confidence to reach out to powerful influencers in your field so you can start expanding your network and building solid relationships that help to boost the growth of your company and reputation.
Reaching out to influencers may seem daunting at first, but remember, in business it is more about who you know than what you know.