When a relevant influencer supports your product or service, it can be a hugely positive endorsement than can lead to sales and improved brand recognition. But many people think about what they can get out of an influencer rather than building a positive relationship with them.
If you are a global company and are dealing with thousands of influencers, it’s not possible to build friendships with them all -- but you can still build authentic relationships.
Here are five tips for building authentic relationships with key influencers in your industry.
1. Identify influencers with similar values.
When you want to form a friendship with someone, you naturally gravitate toward people with similar values. If influencers have similar values to you and your team, in their personal life and business life, you will find it easier to establish a relationship.
The great thing about the online world is that influencers leave clues about what they stand for and what they believe in. Their audience size and relevancy is important, but their values are also important.
2. Help them.
Instead of looking for what you can get from an influencer, how about trying your very best to help them? In Robert Cialdini’s book, Influence: the Psychology of Persuasion, he talks about the law of reciprocity. When you do something for someone, they want to do something in return.
Brian Fanzo is a social media strategist who uses the hashtag #showucare to promote the importance of showing that you care. He highlights brands that demonstrate this online.
If you genuinely care about a relationship, demonstrate this. Next time you meet an influencer, the most important thought in your head should be how you can help them.
Related: 4 Traits Influencers Possess
3. Travel to meet them.
A relationship can be established online, but it goes to another level when you meet someone in person. You can’t spend your time traveling around the world just to have a coffee with all the influencers you connect with, but you can pick out the most important relationships.
Go to a conference where they all hang out and lurk in the corridors to meet the influencers in person. The action at conferences happens in the corridors or in restaurants and bars -- not in the sessions.
4. Be honest.
I recently got an email from a blogger who has no audience and wanted to interview me on a podcast. I get many requests -- so why did I accept the one from the person with no audience?
I got a very genuine and honest email saying this person was a fan of my work and, although they had no audience, they would be honored if I went on to their podcast.
And that's a great way of starting a relationship.
5. Do something surprising.
Earlier this year, I spoke at Social Media Marketing World in San Diego and, a few weeks after I returned, I got a personal thank-you note from the team. In the online world we live in, getting a personal, hand-written thank-you message is powerful and surprising.
Ted Rubin, a social media strategist, uses the term Return on Relationship. If you want genuine, long-term relationships, the immediate return of investment is not the only thing you need to track.
Are you and your team really building authentic relationships? What will you change?