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You’ve probably noticed that some people seem to know everybody. They get access to amazing opportunities through their network, eliciting the jealousy of their less-connected friends. Their association with influencers leads to media attention and general popularity.

It’s easy to assume that wealth makes this happen, but that’s often not the case. You don’t need to throw money around to interact with influencers.

The real way to build a network is to put yourself in the right places at the right times. You can do this without spending a dime. It’s all about understanding how influencers think and being extremely patient.


The Core Principle of Networking

Are you ready for the most important principle of influencer marketing? This is the rule that everything else is built upon.

You need to put the influencer’s needs ahead of your own.

Consider what marketing looks like from the influencer’s perspective. They are already successful, powerful, and connected. There are many different brands that want to get in touch with them, usually in an effort to get press coverage for their product.

Imagine an influencer reading a cold-contact email from a new brand. The email tells them about a supposedly amazing new product, asking if they’ll cover it on their blog or Facebook page. What benefit does this have for the influencer?

They’ve got dozens of similar pitches in their inbox. Suffering from email fatigue, and with no real need to connect with a random new brand, they’re likely to delete the email without responding.

You need to flip the script. Create value for the influencer without asking for anything in return. While your competition selfishly attempts to win influencers’ hearts by asking for coverage, you’ll be busy being generous. This is how you show an influencer that you are worth their time.


Building Awareness

Your goal is to interact with influencers on their terms. Make the interaction work without requiring any additional effort from them.

Ask yourself: Where does this influencer go to interact with new people? For example, some influencers respond to a lot of comments on their YouTube channel. Others are active members of a web forum. Wherever they talk to their fans, you can join the conversation.

The best case scenario is to find a side-project. If an influencer has a million subscribers on their main YouTube channel, but also writes a blog on the side with way less traffic, that’s a golden opportunity. You are much more likely to get their attention by interacting with the blog.

Remember that you are not trying to gain anything in the short-term. Do not pitch your brand to them in the comments. Instead, actually engage with their content. Read their blog and ask an intelligent question about what they said in the post. That’s a simple way to start a conversation with an influencer, with no trickery or cold-calling needed. If worst comes to worse you can always hire a PR Company to do this work.


Cultivating Relationships

After you make a good first impression, you need to build the relationship from there. Your goal is to move from public spaces (blog comments, etc) to a private conversation via email or phone.

This is the most sensitive part of the influencer networking process. Up until now, you had very little to lose. Once you have your first public conversation with the influencer, the relationship is like a budding flame catching its first spark. If you aren’t careful, the fire will die rather than grow larger.

Influencers value their time above all else. You want to assure them that if they give you their private contact info, it won’t lead to endless emails. Always define the following variables when you ask for the email address:

. What you’ll be sending them

. How much time they’ll need to spend to answer you

. Why you are reaching out

For example, you could say “Do you mind if I email you two short questions about a project I’m working on? I’m looking for advice from people with experience. It shouldn’t take more than a few minutes of your time.”

By covering these three areas, you preempt all of their worst fears. They don’t have to worry about you sending a bunch of annoying emails about your brand, or asking for something crazy like “Will you be my mentor?” Instead, you provide a clear picture of the future interaction.


Long-Term Relationship Management

After you successfully have a private conversation with an influencer, you are set. You showed them that they can trust you to be reasonable and professional. This is the key to developing a working relationship, or even a friendship, with the influencer.

View your relationships with influencers as a lifelong resource, not a momentary opportunity. Be very careful about asking for anything. You may want to get blog coverage, a social media post, or something else that will help you out. It’s possible to make that happen. Just don’t be pushy or annoying about it.

As a rule of thumb, only one third of your communications with an influencer should involve you asking for something. Continue to read and interact with their material, sending congratulations or compliments when you particularly enjoy their content. If you see an opportunity to help them out, offer it up.

Over time, this all becomes second nature. It’ll go from a business strategy to a way of life. When in doubt, lean towards generosity. You can always ask for more stuff later.


The Real Gift of Influencer Networking

Influencer networking will enrich your life in many ways. For one thing, your business will benefit from an avalanche of press and social media coverage. You will be amazed at how easy publicity is once you have a few influencers in your network.

More importantly, you will make new friends and uncover new opportunities for personal growth. This is the true gift of befriending influencers. Your personal life will be enriched by an infusion of interesting, passionate people. With enough patience, your network can be filled to the brim with powerful influencers.

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