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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0 responses to “How do you Know When to Reach out to an Influencer?”

  1. Valeria,
    After reading this post and learning more about how you participate in social networks, I was struck by your clear and structured way of engaging with new members of your community. There aren’t too many people who make those lines clear – so I thank you for that.
    I realize this is only my third comment in reaching out to you; however, I felt compelled to propose a #5 to you 🙂 …I’m working on a program that would benefit your community(ies) and is relevant to you.
    This would be a partnership to help you build a larger audience.
    I don’t intend to “cry wolf,” as my partner and I are very clear on what it is we intend to propose (which would require very little, if any effort on your part).
    Please reach out to me, if this sounds at all interesting to you. I’d be happy to send you some more information.
    My email is:
    Twitter: @biztooligans
    Kindest Regards,
    Chase Sherman
    P.S. If you are uncomfortable with moving so quickly towards this conversation, please let me know what I can do to speed up the process of *Serving your community.*

  2. little effort is not the same as well spent effort, though, is it? I wonder if we’re getting down the “too stupid” road on so many front with automation, people doing the choosing and even the thinking for you… a conversation for another day.
    On here, and in my business dealings, it has always been about the right connections, not the volume. When you start making more of the right connections, the scale takes care of itself through those connections. At least, that’s what I have experienced by being around in business…

  3. Gr8 stuff Valeria,
    we do need to know when to address an influencer and how to engage him… its kind of direct marketing to a specific person, and its hard to do…
    point 5 is really important and hard “there is more in it for them than just spamming their network with your link” .. you need to know how to do it 🙂
    Thanks for sharing.

  4. Valeria,
    I loved this post! I read it the other day in preparation for a lunch meeting that I had with a major influencer that our agency feels could help us with promoting our services. I am brand spanking new on the job and just 4 weeks out of college and this was the first meeting I set up for the partners of my agency (
    The meeting went better than expected. This influencer not only agreed to to push business our way when he could, but also agreed to help place us in other circles of influence that he thought would be beneficial.
    My question to you Valeria is what kind of follow-up do I give to this influencer? A simple email saying “thank you” another lunch out to show him we appreciate him? Or do I enquire on what he has done on his end in promoting our services like he said he would?
    Just wanted your insight.
    (p.s. This post seemed to attract a lot of viewers named Chase!)

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