Q. How Do I Build Relationships with Online Influencers Without Appearing Desperate?

Influencer marketing is all about building your online reputation.

In the past, building your reputation only happened through face-to-face meetings and endorsements, but today, the ability to connect online means you can reach out to influencers not only across town in your field of expertise but across the world!

If you haven’t yet considered investing your time to build relationships with online influencers, you should. Here’s why:

While link-building is a great way to establish connections to and from your content, collaborating with a prominent member of your industry will help you reap even greater rewards.

Here are six things to keep in mind to cultivate relationships with influencers and without appearing desperate

Cultivate Relationships Without Being Creepy

1.   Only Connect with Those You Admire

Copyblogger guru, Sonia Simone conveys this point brilliantly when she says,

“Don’t try to connect with web publishers because they have giant audiences or massive influence. Connect with the ones you have a “content crush” on – the ones building something you find exciting and juicy.”

Skip the connections you’re pursuing out of obligation and, instead, focus on the influencers whose values, approach, topics, or tone you like. From there, you can carve out your own little piece of the world by being inspired by them but not duplicating them.

2.   Don’t Oogle.

Repeat after me: “Admiration is good. Oogling is bad.”

Oogling someone is creepy, and if you want to freak out an influencer, gush over them and how great they are. Be forewarned, this approach won’t win you any friends.

Focus on the content topics you have in common, the work you both do, or your common goals. This helps create engaging conversation and connection without them thinking you’re just an obnoxious fan (or worse, a creeper).

3.   Find an Online Sandbox to Play In

Connection takes, well… connecting.

Look for ways to casually connect online and introduce yourself that way instead of sending out cold emails. Seek out your “content crushes” as Simone says and learn to play in the same online sandboxes. 

Online sandboxes include places, such as:

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • Social media groups

Again, avoid gaining stalker status here by simply liking, sharing, and commenting appropriately on the pieces that resonate with you. Be balanced in your approach. Everyone knows that “one lady” or “one guy” who has to stick his/her nose in everything and comment on Every. Single. Post. (Yeah, don’t be that guy.)

4.   Remember (and Acknowledge) the Whole Team

This one is important: remember that behind every great man or woman, there is a whole team of people who helped them get there.

In marriage, you marry the whole family and not just your spouse, and that same idea applies here. Don’t ignore the team because you’re too busy oogling. (Remember: Admiration good. Oogling bad.) 

If you can’t connect one-on-one with an influencer, you’ll be okay. Change your focus to connecting with their whole team. You’ll ultimately end up with more connections that are connected to other connections, grow your network, become more inspired… you may even come out better for it.

5.   Relationships Require Give and Take

Connecting with your business idol online isn’t all about you and what’s in it for you.

Nobody likes that person who only talks about and promotes themselves. That’s why you need to offer your influencer something in return and be collaborative. This is not the time to be pushy or demand your own way. Remember, you want them to know who you are, but for the right reasons.

Benjamin Trinh of Postmates captures this thought beautifully when he says,

“Influencers don’t like being approached by salespeople, and if you behave that way, they’ll treat you like a salesperson.”

6.   Have Clear Expectations and Follow Through

If you do end up making a connection (and if you follow these tips you will), clearly lay out the path and goal you have in mind.

Transparency is a good thing here. Being open and honest will not only build trust in your relationships, but it will also make working together a lot easier and more efficient. 

One final thought for you. Remember that…

Nothing works better in building relationships with online influencers than being truly genuine, straightforward, and focused on collaboration rather than self-promotion.

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