Having even just one relationship with an online influencer can have a significant impact on your business. Online influencers are people who have a dynamic personality that comes across online and they command the respect of other key players in their niche. Relationships with influencers are sought after by business owners because these people help shape consumer decision making by popularizing products and ideas, and promoting things across multiple channels.
The good news is that many top influencers also happen to be fairly accessible, even when you think it's impossible to connect with them. Here are five relatively easy ways to connect with powerful influencers who can hopefully help your business get to the next level:
1. Use LinkedIn and Twitter to establish contact.
Using social media can often be the fastest and easiest way to connect with online influencers because they are already established platforms for connecting with like-minded individuals. LinkedIn can be a useful place to start as it is the largest online network of professionals.
Twitter can be especially useful because the "verified" status feature lets others know that an influencer -- typically celebrities or top industry performers -- does indeed have a real following. You can use sites like Twello and Klout to identify the reach and following of users.
You can try tweeting your target an invitation to connect. Or you could try quoting the person in a blog post of your own, and tweet at them to let them know that you've quoted them in your article. A little ego stroking can go a long way.
2. Don't just say 'hi.' Offer to interview the person.
Over social media, don't just reach out and introduce yourself. Go a step further by offering to interview the person -- either over email or treat him or her to a dinner. This can be framed as an interview that you want to post on your blog or simply an opportunity for you to pick the person's brain. Successful people often enjoy telling their story.
The benefit to you? You'll most likely take away at least one tip for success in your chosen field and have the opportunity to explain what it is you do. And there are multiple benefits for the influencer by way of additional exposure and potential access to new business partners.
3. Be engaged and engaging.
One effective way to get your name and brand in front of influencers is to blog for other sites. You can find relevant blogs to your industry on sites like Technorati. Instead of going straight for the top blogs in your field, consider reaching out to some smaller blogs first. When you have some pieces published on the smaller blogs you can then take those to the larger sites as examples of your work.
When you are seen as someone who actively communicates with new connections it can make other online users want to connect with you. By starting small, you can connect key influencers in your field, because creating content consistently and being involved in forums in your field can alert other influencers that you are committed to your ideas and products.
4. Get connected through someone you know.
Whether online or off, when you get introduced to someone new by a mutual friend you are coming with a built-in background check. You will want to make sure that the person you want to meet knows why he or she is meeting you. Make sure your current contact is clear with his or her description of you and what you do.
Follow up after you get introduced to thank the person for his or her time. Another way to make yourself memorable is to send a gift -- something thoughtful that was clearly chosen with the recipient in mind.
5. Figure out what you can offer and then offer to do it for free.
When you connect with an online influencer, you will need to know what value it is that you are bringing. This could be something as simple as your time, your graphic design skills or your talent for short sales. You should offer to donate your time and skills for free. When you offer enough value and deliver a good product to an influential person you create an opportunity for that person to recommend you to his or her network.
Implement the strategies above to connect with influencers and you should see the number of successful people in your network grow. With so many available resources to you on the internet and otherwise, you may as well use them for something useful -- your own success.
The author is an Entrepreneur contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.