Have you ever felt used? You know the kind of relationship I’m talking about. You meet someone, and they want something from you. Sometimes they’ll hit you up straight-away. Other times they’ll beat around the bush and attempt to manipulate you into giving them what they want by feigning interest or promising something that will likely never materialize. This is the old-school approach to “networking.” And for the most part, it just feels sleazy.
Yesterday I introduced the concept of the Dream 100 (click here to check that out): a strategy of creating relationships with 100 influencers and thought-leaders, with the long-term goal of promoting your beliefs and values to your own prospects and customers.
Today I want to talk about how you can positively influence those influencers. And while it may seem tempting to use them for your benefit, resisting that temptation and creating a win-win will be critical in establishing enduring connections.
So, once you’ve created your Dream 100 list, how do you connect?
By providing value, and being of service. By bringing something to the table. And by giving before you receive. Like this:
7 Ways to Positively Influence the Influencers
1. Become a thoughtful commenter.
Chances are the folks on your Dream 100 list have their own audiences. They may have blogs, Facebook groups, active social media pages, live events, or online discussion forums. You can provide value through active and thoughtful participation. How to be active and thoughtful? Read the content and ask questions. Open discussions. Provide support and commentary. Demonstrate how their content has worked for you and your business. Show up consistently.
The quickest way to be recognized by an influencer is to show up in his or her space. I run this blog, and I have an active Facebook page, two active Facebook groups (attached to paid courses), and active Twitter and LinkedIn accounts. I recognize the individuals who show up and comment. I am encouraged by those who tell me how my information has positively influenced their business or mindset. I create additional content based on questions I receive from readers. And I remember their names and their photos. These thoughtful commenters are part of the “tribe” I create and foster.
Thoughtful commenters don’t “drop and run.” You won’t build bridges by laying down a few sage phrases and moving on. If you want to form a relationship, commit to the long haul. The influencers on your Dream 100 list, no matter how established or experienced they are, have missions. And when you provided sincere and useful feedback, you further those missions by creating a buzz around the message.
2. Share content.
Any successful entrepreneur knows that in today’s world, content is king. We create content as a viable form of permission marketing. It involves reciprocity. On a daily basis, I provide free advice, instruction, insight, and tools to my audience. In response, they give me entrée into their email boxes. And on a regular basis, I use that entrée to sell my products and services. It’s a delicate dance. And as a content provider, I must work to ensure that my content is valuable, salient, and plentiful enough to support the access I’m given. I must earn “permission.”
When you share content from your Dream 100, you expand their entrée to your own audience. You widen their reach. You give them greater access. And by recommending their content to your audience, you provide access with validation, making it even more valuable.
You can promote content on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or your blog. You can email your list or include content in your digital newsletter. Each time you do, make sure to properly credit the author, and then tag them. Letting them see that you’ve shared the content is as critical as the share, itself. And that tagging will also associate you with the influencer in the minds of your prospects. If you can also offer commentary about why you think the content is useful, or how you’ve applied it in your own life or business, you validate the content further, and provide additional value to your Dream 100.
3. Buy their products.
None of us runs a business as a hobby. Your Dream 100 work day-in and day-out to generate revenue. So if you want to be truly valuable, put your money where your mouth is. When you buy a product, you become a client. And business owners are grateful, and to some extent beholden, to their clients. When you can, shift your status from admirer to client.
Many influencers operate private Facebook groups, open forums for product users, masterminds, or user networks. And they’re often active inside these groups. Purchasing a product may give you direct access that you wouldn’t otherwise receive.
And if you want to add real value for your prospects and customers (which I’ll talk about, at length, tomorrow) then you need to fully understand, and use, the products created by your Dream 100.
4. Provide genuine testimonials.
There are few things more valuable to a business than testimonials. Social proof creates trust in a product. Folks are much more apt to buy something when they see others successfully using it.
So, once you become a client, provide genuine testimonials. What do I mean by genuine? Tell the truth. Contrary to popular belief, consumers are not thick or stupid. And most of them can smell bullshit from a mile away. If you provide a gushing testimonial aimed as a manipulation to be seen, your Dream 100 members will steer clear of it, because it won’t provide real value.
Instead, provide specific case study information. Talk about how the product has increased income, decreased time spent, enhanced customer satisfaction, furthered your mission, or improved your efficiency or capabilities. Demonstrate the product in use. By doing so, you’ll become useful for your influencers.
5. Sell their products as affiliates.
Your Dream 100 will often have products to sell that you can promote, and in turn, earn commissions or affiliate bonuses. You can promote books through Amazon, participate in online product launches, promote events or workshops to your list, introduce their tools in your emails, or demonstrate their products to your clients as you use them. This is the ultimate win-win.
6. Become a champion for their cause.
Yesterday I talked about choosing your Dream 100 based on shared beliefs or values. And many of them will have charitable organizations or causes they work to promote. One of the most fulfilling aspects of entrepreneurship is contribution. And you’ll come to find that truly successful, well-established business owners are deeply engaged in the act of giving back.
You can support their causes by raising funds through contests and promotions, spreading the word online, volunteering at events, and donating funds yourself. This type of activity takes the relationship to an entirely new level, as you co-create a future or change the world with your Dream 100.
7. Provide value to their audiences.
Earlier I mentioned thoughtful commenting. Beyond this, you can add value for Dream 100 audiences. If you participate in a Facebook group, participate as an expert, providing real-world advice from your field to other members of the group. Or offer yourself as an interviewee for a podcast, providing truly valuable tips, tools, and strategies for the audience. Offer to guest blog, and create meaningful content to be shared.
It’s critical to remember that you must add value on these platforms. Asking the Dream 100 to interview you so you can have access to their lists is using them. Providing value to their lists is a contribution.
Ultimately, if you want to have dinner with your Dream 100, you have to bring a delicious dish to the table. This is how relationships work in real life. We give, and we receive. It’s a beautiful circle of abundance.
So as you create your list, ask yourself again and again, “How can I serve?” And you’ll become a dream participant in the worlds of your Dream 100.
Tomorrow I’m going to round out this series with a discussion of how these Dream 100 relationships add value to YOUR brand and business. How you can promote them to form true connection. How you can position yourself as an influencer.
Dream big. Dream often.
And then DO something about it.
If you’d like to work with me in creating your own Dream 100, and writing a strategic plan to positively influence their worlds and those of your prospects, reach out to me a firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ve got a package for you that’s an absolute dream.