How to Identify Influencers

As social networking becomes more pervasive in our everyday lives, influencers will play a more critical role in our decision making process. Through a network of influencers, businesses can reach consumers or industry leaders in a meaningful and valuable way.

Influencers come in all different shapes and sizes.  There are cultural influencers, political influencers, and even those kids who often exert decision-making powers in their household. Each individual or group of influencer(s) requires a smart, tailored communications approach. Identifying how you’re going to reach influencers is key in building long-lasting relationships. Are you going to be speaking 1) with, 2) through or 3) to them? These three communication approaches will shape your bond with influencers and inform your strategy.

To begin thinking about influencers, consider:

  • Their passion point(s)—Do they focus all of their time on your entrepreneurial passion, or do they have several areas of expertise?
  • The degrees of separation from the decision maker(s)—Different people and organizations exert different types of influence.
  • How can they benefit your initiative—Think of ways to motivate your target influencers to get behind your product.

To illustrate these points, let’s take example from Colin Powell and Kliener Perkins. The former secretary of state has deep connections in high-level political and business circles. Powell is limited in the number of things he can be passionate about, whereas the legendary venture capital firm has a team of high-level influencers across many industries. Both influencers have deep but different passion points and connections. One is a network of high-level influencers, where the other has deep personal connections. Fortunately, if you were to approach Kliener Perkins in search of influence, Colin Powell could help (as he sits on their board).

As you think about approaching influencers like Kliener Perkins or Colin Powell, don’t just consider how they can benefit you, instead think about how you can help them. Are you on the cutting edge? Are you a future leader? What can you bring to their table?

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