How do you Know When to Reach out to an Influencer?


This is one of the most frequently asked questions on influence I receive. How do you know when to reach out to an influencer? (which presupposes that you have already identified who that person/those people are for your market/industry, etc.)

To be sure, many just do it with every. single. piece. of. communication. Which means they dilute their opportunity for the real ask — a kind of cry wolf situation.

You know it's a good idea to reach out to an influencer when:

1. you have real information, data that is non obvious — this in a positive, all-is-well-with-the-world situation. For example, if you surveyed CMOs and asked them whether they believe marketing is important… well, that is not it.

2. when you're not too busy being defensive about something you screwed up — it's helpful to build alliances with people who have supported you in the past, especially when you're in a bind with an issue. Educate them, don't cut off the bridge you built.

3. your own analysis and assessment of what worked before says "do it" — I would not go overboard with this. However, if you succeeded in gaining the trust and interest of people who have topical authority in your industry, and they acted on certain topics that resonated with their communities, you have a precedent on which to build.

4. it's a fairly specific and timely piece of news — keep it brief, have back up available, realize that often they may not have the time to interview your expert or find much use in quoting her/him because the sexiness is with the news, not what someone else thinks about it.

5. there is more in it for them than just spamming their network with your link — when you're working on a program that would benefit the community(ies) you're trying to reach and is relevant to that influencer, why not partner?

Are you doing important work that is changing lives? That helps break through the clutter as well. What else? In what other circumstances would you give yourself a get-out-of-jail free pass on reaching out to influencers?

Was there a time you were caught off guard by something that worked? As an influencer in your specialty/subject matter/community, what would work with you?

NOTE: It's been interesting to see so many people starting to use the term "conversation agent" for social media. When I came up with it 5+ years ago for this blog and my company, I had no idea it would become so popular. Do you suppose that's influence?


[this post where I found the image is still relevant]

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