How do you know if you are seen as an authority in your niche? It’s crucial to position your experience in a way that builds credibility with leads and other businesses. In my last blog, we began to explore the fourth A in the 5-A Framework—Authority. We discussed how proof points and message recognition can help you to be viewed as an authority. Today, I want to explore the fourth A further and take a deep dive into our other two touchpoints: third-party endorsements and influencer association.
To most of your leads, you’re a stranger. And because humans have been hardwired over millennia to depend on our social groups for safety, we resist trusting strangers. If you think you can walk into the market you are targeting and, as a stranger, and convince people to do business with you, you’ve got a hard road ahead. You know you’re not a threat and that you just want to serve, but your leads don’t. You need to rely on third-party endorsements—influential people saying good things about you. Third-party endorsements help strangers trust you. That’s why making an active effort to get them is essential to your business.
The easiest way to get third-party endorsements is publishing on other influencers’ platforms. While this isn’t the most potent “thumbs-up” you can get, you can likely snag one with little experience within your market. When someone publishes your content, they’re saying, “We believe in this person’s message enough to broadcast it.” They’re acting here as a filter: their audience trusts them to bring the best ideas to their platform. That means they’re more likely to assume your post is high-quality, relevant material.
Endorsements are so powerful that I recommend you aim for six to twelve of them when you’re first starting out in a market. This number provides enough credibility that prospects more easily check off the “authority” box in their minds when they first show up to your business.
When you have authority in your market, you’ll start getting opportunities that are reserved for “market influencers.” And by getting these opportunities, you can rest assured that other people in your market will view you as an authority. This means that if you build relationships with influencers and find ways to publicly collaborate—perhaps a podcast interview, Livestream, or blog content—your market will begin to perceive you as an influencer. Humans are tribal creatures, as I’ve explained, and they have a “herd mentality” when it comes to trusting one another.
Keep in mind, influencers have personal issues, business issues, and everything in between—like we all do. Look past the shining lights. Ignore the accolades, and the likes and retweets, and the published books. This might surprise you, but a lot of influencers have a hard time making money. Just because someone looks like they have it all figured out doesn’t mean they know what they’re doing.
The next step in building these relationships is knowing where to start. Here are five steps to help you leverage existing influencers in your market:
- First, build a list. Building a list of influencers is similar to building a list of publishers or associations within your market. Keep in mind that influencers are people, not just websites. Occasionally, they work for an existing company or organization—and might not be the company itself. They usually have access to some kind of publishing platform, but not always. Go past the platform or website and start looking for the individuals who are doing the writing, hosting, and streaming. Find their social profiles. From there, you can find ways to get in touch with them.
- Follow your influencers and engage with them. It’s best if influencers are somewhat comfortable with you before you start reaching out and trying to find ways to work with them. After you identify a list of influencers, follow them on social media. Engage with the content they are sharing. Reshare it yourself and see how you can add value to their platform without asking for something in return. Once you’ve spent some time following and engaging, even if you haven’t outright “met” the influencer on your list, they’ll begin to know who you are.
(Bonus: This approach also gives you time to learn about them and their platform within your market.)
- Make contact and explore collaboration opportunities. After a certain amount of engagement, you should have a good grasp on who your influencer is and what’s important to them. There is no magic formula for how long you should follow and engage before you make first outward contact. In some cases, it could be a matter of days or weeks. In others, it could be months.
Reaching out is pretty simple. You both serve the same market, which gives you an obvious reason to connect with them. Reach out in a simple message that works for your voice and style and for the specific influencer you’re reaching out to. It never hurts to add a sprinkle of context to the message and bring up some piece of content or social interaction that you had with them.
- Build a relationship. It probably goes without saying, but you have to spend time building relationships with influencers. Do your best to add value if you can. This could mean helping them connect with others you’ve met in the market, figuring out ways you can promote their material, or something else.
Here’s a caution, though: it’s important when building a relationship with an influencer—with anyone, really—that you’re careful about having an agenda. If people get the idea that you are just trying to sell them or get access to their audience, they might put up barriers or walls. This means that you might have to be patient when it comes to helping propel your own business.
5. Explore collaboration opportunities. Most influencers peddle content as a way to build their authority in their market, just like you do. That makes co-creating content one of the simplest ways to build mutual trust with an influencer. If you have a blog or podcast, this is an easy win. You can offer up your platform to help them—and also get the benefit of the association. If they have a platform, you can offer ways to contribute value without necessarily receiving recognition.
The more trust you build with your influencer network, the more possibilities will be available to you.
Why go through all this work? Because once you’ve come to be associated with a few influencers in your market, you’ll start to be perceived by your market as one yourself. You’d be surprised how little is required to begin receiving influencer association benefits—especially if your content and ideas resonate with the influencer. Most influencers are well-connected and know other influencers. Get in with the right ones, and you’ll quickly find yourself asked to connect with other influencers. That’s the goal.
We still have one more A to discuss in the 5-A Framework. Be sure to join me next time when I introduce you to the fifth A—Acquire. In the meantime, if you feel like you are ready to take the next step in owning your market, then it’s time to set up a free strategy session. Simply apply for it here.
I am looking forward to connecting with you again soon!