Do you know who the influencers in your business, industry or niche are? Do you know where to find them? These are the thought leaders that have built trust and credibility among their audiences through their products or services by creating great value.
When you connect and engage with these influencers, you can begin to increase awareness of your own brand and increase your own reputation in the process. But learning how to properly connect in a way that’s mutually beneficial to you both is the key to creating and nurturing a lasting relationship.
Fabienne Raphael is dedicated to helping entrepreneurs build their businesses. Her knowledge and expertise at creating and nurturing influencer relationships – as well as her mantra, “Connect, Build, Automate” – has helped her to successfully land big name guests for her podcast, “Marketing To Crush Your Competitors.”
Rich: Fabienne Raphael is an online business coach and connector, speaker, best selling author and podcaster at “Marketing To Crush Your Competitors”. She helps women entrepreneurs cash in on their expertise and build their online business the right way to make it profitable and automated, so they can spend more time with their loved ones. Her mantra: “Connect, Build, Automate.” Fabienne, welcome to the show.
Fabienne: Well thank you, I’m so excited to be with you today.
Rich: I’m really glad you’re here as well. Now when we were chatting before we started the show via email, you were interested in talking about how to engage with influencers. So let’s start with the most basic question, what is an influencer?
Fabienne: An influencer is someone that is very well known in his or her niche that people look up to for their opinion. Sometimes it’s someone that is kind of innovative and whenever that person says something, usually people look out for that person’s opinion, look out for that person’s way of seeing things and doing things. Most of the time influencers have a huge following, so people that are true fans of them, so whenever they say something it has a lot of weight and people have a tendency to listen to them. So that’s what an influencer means.
Rich: Alright, and you say a huge following, but I’m guessing that that may be based upon the size of the industry or niche that you’re already in. So obviously I’m not going to go after Kim Kardashian who’s got this huge following, I might go after somebody like Chris Brogan or Mike Stelzner within my industry who might have just more visibility, more credibility and more trust, correct?
Fabienne: Exactly, totally. You could connect with Kim Kardashian, but hey, you’ll have to find some common ground between you and her and see how her audience could fit yours.
Rich: I think it’s safe to say that there is zero common ground. And that’s not dissing Kim, necessarily, I just think there is zero common ground there. Ok, but this does bring up another important question, how do we find and identify influencers within our own industry? It sounds like an obvious question, they’re the biggest people in the room so to speak, but maybe we’re kind of new at this or maybe there’s not necessarily somebody who’s jumping out at us. What techniques might you have to find those people?
Fabienne: Well, what I used when I was touting my own podcast and wanted to reach as many of those influencers as possible, what I did was since I was in the online marketing world I looked for online marketing events. So either live seminars, online summits, anything that has to do with that and who the speakers were. So I went to analyze each of those speakers and see what they were doing, what was their following, what was their influence around their audience or the niche, and then I could figure out if they were a true influencer and I want to reach out to that person.
Another thing would be if, let’s say, as a small business owner or an online business owner be sure you attend live events. And again you can see who’s there as a speaker and make yourself different from all the other people and reach out to those speakers before going to the event. So try to get in touch with the person before, therefore when you see them speak, after they’ve spoken you go back and shake their hand and you have that first connection. So it’s a way for those influencers to remember you because you’ve done something different than any other people.
Rich: Alright, let me see if I can kind of recapture that. So what you’ve done in your industry – which is similar to what I do – which is digital marketing and online marketing, is you looked around at a lot of the events both online and off that were going on and then you found the speakers. Those people have most likely already been vetted, they influence other people, they at that very minimum are going to stand in front of a room of 50 or 100 or 500 people. You connected with them beforehand – and I want to get into that in a sec – and then when you physically were there at the event, if you could, you made contact with them and went up and talked to them and perhaps you reminded them that you connected beforehand so that you could make that connection a little bit deeper. Is that a good summary?
Fabienne: Yeah, that’s exactly it.
Rich: Ok, excellent. So I guess one of the questions I have is you’ve identified some of these people, what happens next?
Fabienne: So I send an email and try to find a common ground between me and the person. So that’s why I always say research is very important. Since they are influencers, a lot of people want their attention, a lot of people want them on their podcast, a lot of people want them to speak at their events, so you have to stand out in order for that person to pay attention to you.
So you have to show the person that you did some research about them. If the person just had a book come out and you read it and left a review, for example, then that’s a way to stand out. “I read your book, I think it’s amazing, I left a review on Amazon, would you please want to come on my podcast and talk about it?” See, the first thing you did was you showed interest because you knew they had just published a book. The second thing is you showed another interest because you put a review online. And third you’re inviting the person, so you always have to think of what’s in it for the influencer coming to your show. It’s not you asking for a favor and taking advantage of someone’s platform, it’s you offering your authenticity and a true service to have that person promote themselves.
Rich: That’s actually a very important part, because I’m sure a lot of people are just thinking about the short cut of getting and influencer in the industry and getting them to promote my stuff. Obviously – like you said – that influencer is getting hit up by hundreds if not thousands of other people all begging for that platform as well. So what you’re suggesting is that we go and do something for the influencer before we actually do the ask, is that correct?
Fabienne: Exactly. Or if you already know someone that knows an influencer and you have a great relationship with that person, then you can ask for a simple introduction. That’s the simplest way. So the other person that you know will take care of promoting you as a good person and inviting the influencer to come on your podcast or give you an interview or whatever. So that’s another simple way to do it. If you don’t know anybody that can introduce you to those influencers, then you’ve got to find something to stand out.
Another example I can give you, Rich, that I did myself was someone I was trying to get on my podcast for more than 6 months, and what I did is I had met that person at a live event and I asked them to come on my show and I was like, “I’m doing my follow up and I won’t take no as an answer.” I said I heard her presentation and then we had a couple of conversations together and she said, “Well, I don’t take care of this, it’s my assistant.” So when I went home I wrote a letter saying “thank you” and giving her all the reasons why she should come on the podcast because of what I will do if she does. And in that letter I had put some stickers and other things so that when she gets the envelope she can tell there’s something in it so she wants to open it. And after that when she booked on my show she said, “When you sent that letter your chances went up a lot because you had put some effort into giving me a personal letter, taking good care to stand out with it.” And within three weeks of sending the letter, I had an interview with her.
Rich: Fantastic. You know it’s interesting, just yesterday I was on Imgur – the image sharing website – and there was a post about Tom Hanks and apparently The Nerdist – which is a pop culture podcast – wanted to get Tom Hanks on the show and they knew it was going to be a reach. So what they ended up doing is they did some research and found out he really loved old typewriters, so they sent him a gift of an old typewriter along with a typed letter – from that typewriter – inviting him to come on the show. And he sent them back a very funny note written from the same typewriter basically saying there was no way they could bribe him into being on the show even though there’s some great action on that typewriter. And by the end of the letter he said, “You win, I’ll come on your show.”
So I think that’s just a very extreme version, I don’t think you’re necessarily saying you need to bribe people, but there’s the research component, there;s doing something for them before you actually make an ask, or at least in conjunction so you show the value of them coming on your show or contributing or somehow becoming engaged with you.
Fabienne: Yes, exactly. And if I can add, Rich, if there’s an influencer in your niche and you buy one of the programs, try to stand out and be their best student. Or if you bought a program and that person is offering high end products, then you do get into those products and you are closer to the person because the higher you invest in that person’s business, the more access you will have to that influencer also. So that could be another strategy if it’s in your plan to invest in you having more knowledge with this influencer, and then you will actually be in their MasterMind or meet with them when they do their live events or their private group. So it will be even easier for you to reach out to those people and most of the time if you are their best student, they will ask you to be featured on their platform, that’s even better.
Rich: Yeah. There’s a certain law of reciprocity out there and I’m sure you’re familiar with it. When you do something for somebody, there’s a human reaction that we feel that we need to repay the favor. And this is always this balancing act because you can use this knowledge for good or evil, so if you want to use it for good, that’s sort of what Fabienne and I are suggesting. But if you’re investing your money and time in somebody’s program – especially if that gives you access to that person – there is a certain feeling of reciprocity where if you say to them, “Would you speak at my event? Would you come on my podcast? Would you do X, Y or Z for or with me?” There’s just a human reaction that says I see that you’re contributing to my well being, I’m going to contribute to yours to pay you back.
Fabienne: Yes, absolutely, Rich. Absolutely, you said it right. I have to say also that sometimes if you don’t have that much money in your budget to buy into the program of any of the influencers that you want to reach, then you can always subscribe to their blog, comment on their blogs, like whenever something comes out from their end, you’re the first one to comment or promote. Show true interest, because what influencers hate is when they feel that you’re trying to get something out of it.
They’re human like anybody else, so if people wanted to reach you only for what you can offer them but not for giving you anything, you would not like it yourself either. So it’s the same thing when you’re trying to reach influencers. There are several ways to do so – not necessarily to invest into that program – but just to show true, sincere, interest in what they’re doing and promoting their stuff sometimes. You do it for free because you enjoy doing it and you enjoy that that person is making you learn by reading their blog post or following them on social media. So there are several ways to do so.
Rich: It does feel that in today’s day and age there are so many ways to connect with influencers. So many people – both online marketers as well as in other industries – they are online, they are on social media, they are sharing parts of their lives on Facebook or Twitter, there are these platforms that we can find and connect with some of these people.
Fabienne: Exactly. It’s kind of like they’re everywhere so you’re supposed to be able to find them, and I will insist on the most important point is the research. Although I’ve done a lot of interviews with influencers, sometimes some of the people tell me they appreciate that I made the time to do some research, and sometimes I even want to dig into something that nobody’s spoken about before or try to find an interesting question or another angle because those people go on several podcasts and if everybody always asks the same questions it becomes boring, You just have to listen to one podcast and you know everything about the person.
So the worst thing that you can do when you connect with an influencer is ask them to share their story or what they do or what they’re working on right now, because this is something that you’re supposed to know before connecting with them.
Rich: So some of the themes that you keep bringing up – and I just really want to hammer them home – and one is do you research. And that just seems to be a critical piece. So many of us just want to be able to get the influencer on our side and just basically call them up and put them on our podcast interview or interview them for our blog or whatever it may be, but not having taken the extra steps to really show that respect for the fact that they have become accomplished in our industry.
And another thing that I keep on hearing you say is, “differentiate yourself”, and really stand out from the crowd. So you’ve done that by in part doing the research but also by commenting and being the first person – not necessarily being the loudest person – but really making sure that they see you and they’re aware of you so it doesn’t feel like some sort of drive by engagement, that you’re actually investing some time in their success as well.
Fabienne: Exactly. And you know as you said before, it will come back to you, it’s normal karma. When you do that, eventually when you have your products of your own or when you launch your own program or if you want to organize something bigger, when you reach out to those people again it would be a pleasure for them to participate in your projects. And you never know where this can lead you.
We’re all impatient whenever we’re starting our businesses like we want to have the money yesterday, we want the results last month but actually we have to deal with what’s coming up today. So when you plant your seeds today doing it the right way, connecting with the right people and engaging with those people and build a relationship, in a couple of months or the next year or two years, or further when you will be doing something of your own, they will be the first people to help you out and give you a hand and introduce you to other influencers and will help you build your authority online or offline depending what your business is.
Rich: That makes sense. Now Fabienne, you’re often looking to connect and engage with influencers because you’re looking to get people on your podcast. Other people might not have a podcast or maybe there’s things you want to engage your influencers for that go beyond your podcast. Once we’ve kind of made this connection with an influencer, how can we maybe take it to the next level?
Fabienne: It depends what you want to do. Actually when you connect with them what I would say is to nurture the relationship. So send an email once in awhile or if the person has a publication or is on a major publication, be there to comment or congratulate. Send a letter to congratulating them for being in Entrepreneur Magazine and you read their article and it was great, stuff like that. Nurture the relationship and stay authentic.
The thing is if you show true interest all along the way, let’s say you’re working on your live event or a huge project of yours that you want to launch, well if you want to have their collaboration it will be so much easier to get it because you’re doing your job of nurturing that relationship. So to take it to another level you can’t do that if you haven’t done your job of keeping the conversation going and nurturing the relationship. That’s what people appreciate – all of us appreciate that – and especially influencers. They will never feel that you’re taking advantage of their platform or taking advantage of them.
Rich: That’s good advice. And I guess to make sure that it doesn’t feel like you’re taking advantage of it, don’t take advantage of it, provide value as well. And I’ll just say for my own self, I have friends – and I’m not going to mention any names – but I have friends that are kind of big deals in this industry and internet marketing and I often feel like they’ve got their own thing and I don’t want to take up their time. And they’re like, “Hey, Rich, we’re friends”, but sometimes it doesn’t feel like this. So I think one of the things to keep in mind when you are starting to make those connections with influencers is to realize that they are just people as well and to treat them as that with respect.
I remember recently I just happen to reach out to somebody – a friend of mine who’s kind of a big deal, without mentioning names – and I said that I really liked a particular podcast episode and it spoke to me because of reasons x, y and z. And I was being sincere, I wasn’t just saying something to reconnect with him, it just really did touch me in a way and he immediately responded in a very positive way and invited me to come on his podcast again. So that was not what I wa looking for, I just wanted to provide some authentic feedback.
Likewise I got another email from one of the influencers in our industry – when I say I got an email I mean I subscribe to his email newsletter – and I responded to him personally for that particular thing that he sent and I commented on something and I asked him a question and it reignited our relationship and our conversation.
I bring this up only because I think sometimes we like the catch of the influencer and then we don’t know what to do with it or we just kind of forget about it because maybe we don’t care about that platform anymore or maybe because we don’t think that that person cares about us beyond doing us that one favor. But it’s about building relationships. I think that’s a big part of it and I think that’s what you’re talking about in terms of being authentic.
Fabienne: Exactly. And don’t get overwhelmed if there are too many people. You can always concentrate on a few people at a time because it could be a lot of work if you decide to follow 50 at the same time and comment on everything and follow all of them all the time. But if you concentrate on a fewer amount at a time, of course you are going to connect better with some people. So try to invest time and energy into those relationships because those are the ones that are going to pay off in the long end.
Rich: I have one more questions and I’m not sure if it’s a little off topic. I know that some of us feel more comfortable connecting with people that are online than we do in person, especially if you have been in kind of like in awe of somebody from afar and then you’re suddenly at an event – like Agents Of Change or Social Media Marketing World – and you run into one of your heroes or influencers, it can be intimidating.
Now I’ve seen you in action because you came to an Agents Of Change, you give off a feeling of confidence, you have an awe of confidence about you. What tips for the wallflowers out there do you have so that we can go up to our influencers – or our heroes, so to speak – and kind of break the ice in real life?
Fabienne: Let me confess something, I’m a very, very shy person per se. I’m an introvert more than an extrovert. So what I tell myself is these people are human like me and I want to concentrate more on what I can bring to the person and what that person can bring for me in order to take action and do it. But mostly what can I do for that person. So shifting the mindset a little bit, taking the pressure off that.
There is a successful entrepreneur who’s a millionaire or serial entrepreneur, very successful, and you’re just a beginner. If you’re trying to offer this persona service or congratulate them on what they’re doing and I want to see what I can bring or them, then it takes all the pressure off – not necessarily all – but a lot of the pressure off your shoulders.
Also, you might be surprised that a lot of these influencers are also shy sometimes or introverts themselves, so you can see that they are not always comfortable either talking to other people or going to shake hands or answer questions or stuff like that. So we all go through the same struggles and I’m sure that you’ve realized that, Rich, interviewing so many people on your podcast that a lot of us struggle with the same stuff. It’s just that the people that get to it, they take action and they do it anyways, and then when you do that , you open yourself up for a lot of discovery about yourself because you’ve made it. So if you made it once, you can do it another time. And then also you open up yourself to a great relationship with a truly amazing person which is the influencer you wanted to reach.
Rich: I think that’s a really good point. And I also just want to go back to one of your first points about doing the research beforehand and connecting with that person before meeting in real life. I know for me personally, going up to somebody who I haven’t met in real life and starting a conversation can be a very intimidating thing. But if the conversation has already started online and I’m just basically continuing that conversation where I can say, “Hey, remember when we were talking about this video game or this comic book or this movie or this book that we both liked?” And then all of a sudden we’re right into that conversation again.
And like you said, it is funny how many people out there are actually introverts and are not necessarily comfortable. So when somebody comes up and wants to have an authentic conversation with them, it can actually kind of put them at ease. So definitely something to keep in mind.
Fabienne, this has been great. I really appreciate all the time you gave to us today. For people who want to connect with you online, where can we send them?
Fabienne: Well you can connect with me on Facebook, and you can also listen to the podcast, Marketing To Crush Your Competitors, and if you want to get your free gift go to the website. This is a place where you’ll have a free audio about 27 simple marketing strategies that can help you build and skyrocket your business in the next 6 months.
Rich: Awesome. Well, Fabienne, thank you very much again for your time, I really appreciate it.
Fabienne: Well it was my pleasure to be here and thank you so much for this, Rich, because I found that you’re listening a lot and the conversation was so easy, so I really appreciated that. Thank you.
Rich: What a nice thing to say. Thank you very much and have a great day.
- You can find Fabienne on Facebook and go check out her podcast for more great tips.
- Fabienne has a FREE audio link offering 27 simple marketing strategies to help your business skyrocket, so don’t miss out on that!
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