It’s a common request — your client wants you to run an influencer campaign to promote an ebook, a blog post or a new product. How are you supposed to get in touch with people with tens or hundreds of thousands of followers on Twitter? They probably get requests for this kind of stuff from strangers all the time.

While the thought of getting heard through all that noise is daunting, there’s a method to stand out and get in touch. Specifically, there are six steps to an effective influencer outreach strategy:

  1. Find the influencers
  2. Research the influencers
  3. Find their emails
  4. Warm them up
  5. Connect
  6. Ask

The approach isn’t about screaming to get their attention — it’s about building a relationship with the right people. Let’s dive in.

Step 1: Find the influencers

We might not know much about our clients’ industries, but it isn’t very difficult to find out who the influencers are. Here are four methods to find the influencers in a client’s niche:

1) Buzzsumo. You can search for a topic on Buzzsumo and find the most popular articles on that topic being shared on social media. Then, you can sort the results by most shares on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ or overall.

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2) Followerwonk. Similar to Buzzsumo, you can find out popularity based off a keyword. However, instead, Followerwonk will find you the most popular people on Twitter for the keyword. For example, a search for content marketing here:

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3) Twitter Search. Why do a search on both Followerwonk and Twitter? As shown below, a search on Twitter for “content marketing” filtered for accounts may give different results.

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4) Google. The most obvious tool is Google search. Rather than searching for “content marketing,” I would search “content marketing influencers.” As you can see below, five out of the first six results are lists of content marketing influencers. The influencer search has already been done!

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Step 2: Research the influencers

Most people reach out to influencers and immediately ask for something before they’ve provided any value.

The goal of research is to have a point to build rapport on with the influencer. This means understanding their personal interests and what they care about. The best part is, it can take as little as ten minutes but will drastically improve your response rate.

Learn more about the influencer by browsing their personal website, Twitter profile, questions they ask or answer on Quora and their work history on LinkedIn. For example, a quick look at my about page will tell you that I’m a dancer. If you were to send me an email with an awesome dance video, I’ll pay attention to what you have to say.

Another example is James Altucher’s Quora profile. A quick look and we can immediately see that he gives life and career advice and writes about self-improvement. These are things we can talk to him about.

Step 3: Find their emails

Influencers get contacted all the time on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Quora and so on. It makes sense that they wouldn’t openly share their email — there’s a lot of noise.

However, in our case, we have a great resource that we believe would be useful for their audience. While they’d be promoting our content, it’ll also be valuable for their followers. It’s a win-win.

Here are two methods to find their email that take less than five minutes:

1) Voila Norbert. Simply put in their first name, last name and the domain of the company they work at and Norbert will do the rest. Boom.

2) Strategic guessing. For the cases when Norbert can’t work his magic, you can strategically guess an email. Here’s how. (1) Use Email Breaker to find out the email structure for a company domain. (2) Plug in the influencer’s information into the email structure. (3) Check that the email is valid using Sidekick. We’ve also made a video to walk you through this method.

Step 4: Warm them up with light engagement

So we’ve found their email…but we’re not going to email them yet. Now we have to warm them up for our email. The goal is to make our name and face familiar to them before we hit their inbox. The best way to do this is to provide value.

There are two platforms to do this effectively: Twitter and Quora.

On Twitter, you can follow them, retweet them, favorite their tweets and tweet useful content or compliments their way. On Quora, you can ask them questions or answer any questions they may have. This will build familiarity and added credibility to your name.

Step 5: Connect with a powerful networking email

We found their email earlier, now it’s time to put it to use.

There are three key things to remember when writing your first email to them:

  1. Forget the intro. Don’t start off with “Hi my name is David and I’m a growth marketer at blah blah blah …” It’s boring. They don’t care who you are. Get to the point and how you’ll benefit them.
  2. Speak to their ego. Show your admiration for them. Tell them how they impacted your life, or how you’ve learned from their material, or refer to them as an expert or a leader. It shows them that their work is important.
  3. Add more value. You might’ve already provided value when warming them up. Continue to do it. Share feedback on their product, share a high quality book or article with them, or share their content with people. Don’t ask for anything in return.
  4. Be genuine. Don’t lie about any of the above. If you don’t truly admire them, don’t reach out to them. If you don’t want to provide any value to them and you’re in it solely to get their promotion, don’t get in touch. They can tell if you’re being fake.

Step 6: Make the ask

You went through all the work of researching them, finding their email, warming them up and you finally emailed. You have the relationship now, but you haven’t achieved your goal of asking them to promote your product or piece of content.

Well, it’s time.

Once you’ve built rapport and provided insane amounts of value, you can comfortably send an email asking for a favor. Remember these four things:

  1. Size matters. Keep the email short. Don’t use paragraphs. Use bullet points.
  2. One email, one goal. If you ask more multiple things, you might get nothing. Ask for one thing and one thing only.
  3. Be specific. Don’t just ask, “can you give me advice?” Instead ask, “I’m having trouble with getting in touch with a VC in Silicon Valley. Would you happen to know someone who can make an introduction for me?”
  4. Make it easy for them to say yes. If you’re asking to get coffee, set the time, date, and location so that all they have to do is say “yes” or “How about Wednesday at noon instead?”

Take this approach to your influencer outreach for your client’s campaign and you’ll get more than a product promotion. You’ll develop a new relationship with an influencer that outlasts that one campaign.

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David Ly Khim

David Ly Khim

Growth Marketer at Sidekick
David Ly Khim is a growth marketer for Sidekick. He writes about email productivity, career development, and marketing. When he isn’t writing, he can be found reading a book or on the dance floor.