Do you know what many entrepreneurs desire?

Fostering sustainable growth for their business.

It’s a straightforward goal but often difficult to achieve. In fact, most business owners come to the point where they realize that they can’t scale their businesses alone.

The way forward?

Influencer marketing.

The connections that you make with influencers play a critical role in driving the type of organic growth that will serve your business for the long term.

What is Influencer Marketing?

Influencer marketing is about developing strategic relationships with persons who can give your brand’s message a bigger platform to get noticed.

What better way to generate relevance for your business than to get key players in your industry to leverage their influence on your behalf?

Rather than trying to tap into an undiscovered audience, you’re getting your business in front of an established following. It is a prime opportunity to generate and nurture leads within their active network.

How to Connect with Influencers

What Makes an Influencer?

Influencers are people who are dominating their niche markets in the online space. They could be reporters, bloggers, journalists, or anyone with a vast and active following.

There are three critical components that you should consider when targeting the right influencer for your brand:

Relevance: An individual can have the most influential online presence, but if his or her audience does not fit within your niche market, you will see no benefits. Naturally, you want to connect with influencers who have an audience that is seamlessly aligned with yours.

Reach: Your target influencer must have the reach to drive awareness for your business. A large following, whether it is through social media or otherwise, lends itself to the high level of buzz that you’d like to generate.

Authority: Getting your business in front of millions of eyes will have no impact if your influencer doesn’t have enough authority to move them to take action.

What Influencer Marketing Means to Your Business

The path to organic growth is usually gradual and unhurried.

But should it be?

What influencer marketing does is to speed up an otherwise slow process of growth. It’s designed to get your business in front of an engaged audience that is already primed to receive your message.

The stats show that 22 percent of marketers determined influencer marketing to be the fastest path to customer acquisition.

How to Connect with Influencers

Among these marketers, 56 percent placed emphasis on ROI and determined that revenue generated was the most important success metric.

How to Connect with Influencers

Clearly, influencer marketing is not just a tactic used to drive vanity metrics. It is about real business growth and revenue generation.

The No. 1 Barrier to Influencer Marketing Success

With the stakes being so high, it makes you wonder why so many marketers fail to see any impactful results from their influencer-marketing campaigns.

The problem is simple and usually takes effect at the very first stage of the process.

Most people treat influencer marketing like any other business transaction. They end up coming off as self-serving; they fail to prove their value to influencers, and their campaigns flop before even taking off.

The encouraging news?

We know exactly where the challenges lie. This survey by GroupHigh reveals that 46 percent of respondents agree that proving value to influencers is their biggest hindrance.

How to Connect with Influencers

Crushing the Barrier

You’re faced with the prospect of building a relationship with someone who has the ability to skyrocket your business.

The natural question is: How do I effectively initiate that alliance?

Prove your value by becoming a trusted and valuable information source.

If you approach influencers with the sole intention of informing them, without a catch, they will be more receptive to forming that first connection.

This is a budding of a relationship, so don’t treat is as a chance to get publicity for your business just yet.

Remove your self-interests from the equation, and simply establish yourself as a trusted source.

How to Become a Valuable Information Source for Influencers

Influencers, including bloggers and reporters, have a vested interest in providing valuable content and newsworthy information to their audience. This means that the opportunity is golden for you to reach out if you can help them.

The information you offer can be:

  • Relevant and up-to-date data, e.g. a case study or new statistics
  • A quote or insight demonstrating expertise in a particular topic
  • Any piece of info that will add substance and value to their story

Of course, the information will depend on your target influencer.

Here are two easy ways to be an information source.

1. Monitor hashtags on Twitter. You can search for the hashtags that your target influencers use based on their industry. If you’re looking to connect with journalists and reporters, you want to monitor the hashtags #journorequest and #prrequest.

For bloggers, you should use the hashtags that are relevant to your niche, e.g. #influencemktg.

A tool like Hootsuite allows you to easily monitor hashtags.

How to Connect with Influencers

Your goal is to monitor the Twittersphere to find out what journalists and reporters want.  When you find a hash-tagged tweet that is relevant to your niche, reply. Just remember that your goal is to provide value.

2. Help A Reporter Out (HARO). This is a platform where reporters in different industries place requests for information. Simply find reporters based on your expertise and pitch them via email. Reporters may be able to use your information in an article or content piece.

Using either method, you will monitor and potentially answer reporters’ questions. This is a great way to gain exposure.

If a reporter uses your information or insights in content, you’ve provided value. When the reporter hears from you again, he or she will be more likely to respond in a positive manner. The journalist may also keep your contact information on file for future requests of the same nature.

How Will You Know if Your Information is Used?

Some influencers may reach out to you with more questions, and you can continue that conversation going forward.

Other influencers will take your information and run with it. They may even copy and paste your insights right into their article or content piece.

Because of this, it is important to monitor the Internet for mentions of your name. You can use
Google Alerts, BuzzSumo, or social listening tools to send you alerts when your name is used on the Web.

Whenever you receive an alert of a story that mentions your name, reach out to the influencer. At this point, you may compliment him or her on the content and thank him or her for including your information.

This is how you provide value. And this is how you begin a long-lasting relationship with an influencer.

Final Thoughts

Businesses have every reason to connect with the movers and shakers in their industries.

In proving your value by first becoming an information source, you can later leverage your relationship to support the goals of your business.

The most important takeaway here?

If you introduce a self-serving desperation to the influencer marketing process, you will not be met with positive reception by the people who matter most.

Give value and you will receive value.

Myles is Founder and CEO of eREACH, a content marketing firm that provides seo-consulting and link building services. He’s on a mission to demystify and simplify Internet marketing for entrepreneurs. When he’s not working, you can find him traveling and exploring new surf spots.