The Short Steps to Becoming an Industry Influencer
Of course, since every marketer on the planet wants to form a personal connection with every industry influencer relevant to their brand, the effect from the influencer’s perspective can be not unlike what happens when a soon-to-be-divorcing celebrity couple inadvertently crosses the path of a horde of paparazzi. Pandemonium ensues, with the influencer(s) beating a swift retreat back to their trusted inner circle of cohorts.
And herein lines the challenge, since in order to become an industry influencer, you will first need to find a way to connect with existing influencers that feels authentic, trustworthy and mutually beneficial.
Understanding Today’s Industry Influencer
Today’s industry influencer can be literally anyone. Young people, not-young people, rich people, broke people, people of all sizes and shapes and from all walks of life can become influencers. Opportunity is always knocking for those who have the social radar to hear it.
Some influencers stumble into the role while others build it with exquisite deliberateness. Some influencers have a cause while others are focused on future income-earning potential. And some influencers are just rabid fans who love a particular brand large and loud online (it goes without saying these should be treated like gold).
Point being, when it comes to identifying and connecting with influencers in your industry, you don’t need to worry if the social media influencer doesn’t match your ideal customer demographic. What matters is that they already have the ear of people who may match your demographic.
Even if the influencer’s followers are not a demographic match per se, they still might want to support your brand and buy what you are selling. Plus, in the process you just might discover a whole new previously untapped demographic of potential customers who are eager to try out your brand’s products or services!
Three Short Steps on the Path to Becoming an Industry Influencer
By following these three short steps, you can successfully position yourself as an influencer in the industry of your choice.
Step 1: Get in good with existing influencers.
While this step is not precisely necessary in order to become an influencer, it sure can make your trajectory faster and gentler. By connecting with existing influencers, you leverage the trust they’ve built with their followers without having to build your credentials from the ground up.
Here are just a few examples of good methods for connecting with existing influencers:
- Become a follower and interact with them frequently via comments and shares.
- Offer to send them free samples of your product.
- Invite them to write a guest post for your company blog.
- Contact them to speak at an upcoming conference or webinar.
- Ask them for help solving a problem or generating new ideas.
Just like you can’t fast-forward a friendship from day one to day 365, so too you must pace yourself when cozying up to existing industry influencers. Otherwise, you risk coming across as a spammer, a stalker or just someone with a serious agenda to push. Trust takes time to develop, so pace yourself as you would with any relationship you hope to retain into the long term.
Step 2: Begin your transition to influencer.
Connecting with existing industry influencers serves two purposes: it gives you a bird’s-eye view of an existing influencer at work “doing their thing,” and it gives you access to an existing group of trusting followers who will be favorably inclined to lend you an ear, at least for a time or two until they see what you bring to the table.
Here, as a marketer your goal will be to find a way to complement and support existing influencers while easing yourself into the role of fellow influencer. In other words, you have to find your unique niche of influence – preferably one that isn’t already taken by another influencer.
The more attention you give to your fellow influencers, the more likely you are to identify unmet needs, unanswered questions and unaddressed frustrations within the industry itself. These discoveries will help you identify and hone your niche as a unique voice in the industry.
Once your niche is identified and you have outlined how it complements the roles of your fellow influencers, you can then begin to collaborate, working together to cement each other’s positions while simultaneously securing your own. In today’s oh-so-social culture, collaboration is often the best form of competition, and this is never more true than when you have your eye on the prize of becoming an industry influencer.
Step 3: Give wisely and generously of your time and influence.
Generosity is a currency that established influencers know well. After all, they have everyone to thank for trusting them, following them, promoting them, collaborating with them and supporting them to continue in their role of influencer within the industry.
Once you have begun to secure your own foothold as an industry influencer in your own right, it is time to focus on two tasks: regularly thank those who helped you become an influencer and begin cultivating your own influencer proteges to return the favor (in the process creating your most reliable group of future fans and promoters).
From the inside looking out, becoming an industry influencer is ultimately a role of service, although from the outside looking in it can seem to be just the opposite. This is why the short steps to becoming an influencer start with serving and promoting existing influencers and continue with serving and promoting up-and-coming influencers.
By embracing the culture of cross-promotion, collaboration, sharing and support, you can climb the surprisingly short ladder from follower to leader, fan to influencer, contender to champion, newcomer to wise elder in your field.