Grow Your Social Network, One Influencer at a Time

Image by Chris Potter via flickr

By Aleksandra Sagan | 1 year ago | No Comments

Whether you’re just diving into the social media world, have hit a digital slump or are a business entering a new phase, there’s always opportunity to expand your online reach. But, it can be daunting to try and connect with strangers. While in real life, a smile and a hello might do the trick, the digital world is a different beast.

Many social media experts suggest nurturing online relationships, being a giver and not a taker, and showing off your insider expertise as long-term strategies for expanding your network.

Find the right people

The first step is to figure out who you want to connect with.

It’s smart to look for influencers in your industry or field. These relationships can be hugely beneficial if established leaders choose to follow, retweet or like your material. Remember, they’re likely to have large followings themselves.

If you’re having a hard time figuring out who to hone in on, you can use Hootsuite to search for influencers by filtering your home feed or search column with Klout.

Narrow the list down to a manageable number and identify what long-term gains you want to achieve from this potential relationship. Maybe you’re seeking a collaboration, looking for some advice or hoping they will eventually share your material.

Go to their turf

Once you know who you’re looking for, find their profile on all the social media platforms they use. Check LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, YouTube and any other social hub.

Just as if you were hoping to run into the person in real life, determine on what platform they spend most of their time. If they have thousands of followers on Twitter, but only a barebones LinkedIn profile, you probably want to reach out by tweeting.

You increase the likelihood of a response by catching them on their social turf.

Sharing is caring

Self-promotion is an easy trap to fall into on social media—after all, you want others to rave about your work or product. But, a broader appreciation for and knowledge of an industry earns you credibility (and more loyal followers).

Show others you know and value their work. Check back on their social networks frequently so you don’t miss any of your targeted influencer’s self-promotion and Google their name to stay up-to-date on any online mentions.

When you spot some of their new work, share it on your social networks. Ensure that they see it—and others know who it belongs to—by tagging them in the post.

Don’t just share, but add value to the conversation by offering some insight. Use this as an opportunity to impress them with your knowledge.

Find a conversation the person is already having and contribute to it. Look to see if the person participates in Twitter live chats, attends Google+ hangouts or posts in a LinkedIn group discussion board. It could even be as simple as answering a question they have tweeted to their followers.

Jump in on the conversation and again move the discussion forward.

You don’t have to limit these types of interactions to a single occurrence. You’re trying to become a visible, valuable part of their network.

Get personal

The digital world can seem like a big, faceless void. So, send the person you’re trying to connect with a more personal message.

Do your research. Spend some time on their social media profiles and discover what you have in common by perusing their interests, work experience, connections and recent posts.

Be patient and don’t expect an immediate response. Continue nurturing the relationship by engaging in their online discussions.

Hopefully, if you catch their attention with your industry knowledge and involvement within their social network, they will want to connect with you as well.

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Aleksandra, this is all well said.  Why do you think is it that more people don't know this stuff already?  Is it the culture of instant gratification that the internet offers that makes investing time in value-added dialogue seem non-obvious? 

I'd love to know your thoughts; I suspect it's just that social media is still too new and its awesome power is just too hard for people to imagine being available to them.  Not only can you hear from the most famous people in the world, you can engage with them too - if you're interesting enough!

Thanks for articulating this method of engagement through adding value where people are in such a comprehensible way.  That in and of itself is a great value add. It reminds me of when I saw social selling world-leader @jill_rowley explain to someone on Twitter how sharing and creating content on the social web helps her grow her business contacts.  I thought it was so well-put that I reached out to her and it was the beginning of a great relationship between us!  Here's how she put it: ""I read an article. I tweet the article. I cite the author. She sees I tweeted her article. She follows me.  I write a blog post. Subscribers read it & share across their social networks.  They and their followers follow & connect with me.""

For what it's worth, as a part of the process you described above (where you recommended using Hootsuite columns and Klout) my company Little Bird can help discovery of influencers you *don't know yet* and who haven't mentioned a keyword you're tracking yet - but who are connected to other influential people in a topic.  You can then export the list of influencers you've found into a Twitter list and put it into Hootsuite!  (Or you can use Little Bird to get a highlight reel of their hottest content - which you can then engage with in Hootsuite, too.)  We think the two work very well together.