6 Steps to Connecting With Influential People How to create a more powerful network.

By Gwen Moran

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Shutterstock

Influencers -- those well-connected, knowledgeable voices to which others listen and respond -- are coveted connections. They can provide insight, recommendations, introductions and opportunities.

Most people already know who the influencers are in their industries, says attorney and entrepreneur Steven Babitsky, co-author of The Street Smart MBA: 10 Proven Strategies for Driving Business Success (Apress, 2012). They're often popular authors, speakers, bloggers, columnists or successful businesspeople. Babitsky has an effective formula for connecting with many of them. Here are his six steps to connecting with influencers in your industry.

Related: Want to Really Network? Stop Using Social Networks

1. Offer something.
"Give three things and ask for one," Babitsky says. In other words: Give more than you take. When he's interested in making contact with an influencer, Babitsky first determines what he can offer that will be of value to the contact. He may be writing a white paper or book or be organizing a conference where he can offer the individual a speaking gig.

Of course, not everyone is writing books or organizing conferences every day. However, you can offer to interview the person for your blog or for a special report on your web site. Alternatively, you might be involved with a professional or trade organization where you can introduce the individual to your own network of influencers.

2. Do your homework.
It's usually possible to research influencers' past writing and speeches, interests, and pet causes with a simple online search. Don't waste their time asking basic questions or for information that is easily available online. Instead, find common points and use those to find areas where you might connect.

3. Get in touch.
Babitsky likes to reach out via phone or email instead of social media because it's more personal, he says. However, take your lead from the influencer's cues. If he or she is active on Twitter or carries on online conversations on his or her blog, that might be a good way to get in touch, too.

4. Limit the ask.
When reaching out for the first time, make it short and sweet. Don't ask for anything that will take more than 10 or 15 minutes -- a brief interview or a straightforward question or two. People generally like to help, but they may not have time to answer lengthy questionnaires or get involved in a seemingly endless back-and-forth.

5. Keep in touch.
Maintain a database of contacts that also includes searchable keywords related to interests. That way, if you come across an article or information related to some of your contacts' interests, you can easily send it along, keeping you relevant and memorable.

6. Ask to reciprocate.
If someone has helped you, Babitsky recommends asking the individual if there is anything you might do to help him or her. The individual may be dealing with a challenge you can help alleviate, he says. If not, the ask is another form of relationship building, showing the influencer that you're interested in giving back.

Related: Hate Small Talk? How to Break the Ice When Networking for Business

Gwen Moran

Writer and Author, Specializing in Business and Finance

GWEN MORAN is a freelance writer and co-author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Business Plans (Alpha, 2010).

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Related Topics

Growing a Business

The Owners of This Texas Farmers Market Took a Big Gamble. Here's How It Paid Off Bigger Than They Dreamed.

A Texas farmers market educates customers about the importance of shopping local for a healthy lifestyle and an even healthier small business community.

Business News

A Billion Dollar Startup Is Trying To Resurrect A Woolly Mammoth — And You Can Watch It Happen

Filmmakers will go behind the scenes of billion-dollar startup Colossal Biosciences, which uses genetic engineering for de-extinction projects.

Business News

A 29-Year-Old CEO Quit Microsoft To Build His Startup — And Just Scored A Deal on Shark Tank

Aabesh De tapped into a niche need during the pandemic and founded Flora, a houseplant care startup.

Business Ideas

55 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2024

We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2024.

Employee Experience & Recruiting

Avoid Costly Hiring Mistakes With These Five Essential Tips

From using an AI-powered video platform to posting more precise job listings, these strategies will help hiring managers spend less time, energy and money finding the right candidates.