How To Win Friends Among Influential People

How To Win Friends Among Influential People

If you want to win at social media, you need to get people on your couch.

The couch is where the magic happens. It is where trust is finally earned. It is where you step away from the digital noise and begin to shine.

It is where relationships flourish.

But the couch isn’t easy. It requires some finesse.

In the real world, this is obvious. The relationship with a coworker is limited to the work space. The relationship with a buddy may extend to the after-hour drink. But the friend?

The friend crashes on your couch.

In social media, the couch is your profile. It is your home turf.

So how do you connect with influential people and move them from coworker to couch surfer?

Here is the process of social connection and some advice to ease the journey.

1. Become The Coworker

Any time you publish material, there are three types of people who engage:

  • The Stalkers: These are the people who read your content, who love your material, but don’t engage. At best, they may plus, like, or favorite what you have shared. For the most part, they stick to the background.
  • The Encouragers: We all love these people. They are the ones who like to tell you how meaningful they find your work. These are the people that remind you why you love what you do.
  • The Coworkers: This is a different echelon of engager. The coworker knows the industry, and this quickly becomes apparent. When they comment, they add value to your post. Sometimes, they will agree and expand upon your topic to include overlooked areas. Other times, they will challenge your thesis and lay out their reasons why. Either way, their comments prompt thoughtful discussion.

When you begin building relationships with leaders in your industry, you want them to know that you are a valuable addition to that industry. You want them to view you as a coworker or colleague rather than a potential client. This changes the relationship dynamic.

If you want to connect with influencers, make yourself valuable.

2. Invite Them Out For A Drink

As a coworker, you have to begin by engaging on their turf.

But you don’t want to remain on their turf. You want to broaden that connection to other settings. To do this, you have to actually invite them to those settings.

If you are plugged into the social media happenings within your field, watch for cross-connection opportunities. As you engage with conversations taking place across the social web, be intentional about drawing those leaders into discussions relevant to their area of expertise. Here are some simple ways to do this.

  • Ask a question. This week when Hubspot released their massive study on the state of inbound marketing, Ana Hoffman covered it in her social stream. This led to an interesting question posed by David Kutcher on causality vs. correlation. In response, Ana shared her thoughts and then passed the question to Joe Chernov, the author of the study. The result? Joe joined the conversation.
  • Refer to their content. When Google+ announced the death of authorship markup, Mark Traphagen and Eric Enge were already poised to deliver what became the definitive early analysis of the causes and implications of the change. As the social media world exploded into controversy, all of us were busy calming the fears provoked by so many Google+ doomsayers. It also provided the perfect opportunity to connect with Mark Traphagen and Eric Enge by referring to that article and +mentioning the two authors in the process. The result? Both of them joined those discussions.
  • Offer an example. Many of your social media leaders have certain areas where they particularly excel. Identifying those areas and using them as concrete examples not only draws engagement, it makes you valuable. It demonstrates your awareness of the social landscape and places you on the radar of your chosen influencers.

Here is the key: you don’t just want to draw industry leaders into ongoing conversations. You want to respond to the discussion, offer valuable insight that demonstrates your expertise, and then invite them in. This leads them outside of their own profile and allows you to stand out as an industry asset.

Put simply, if you want to make connections you must expand your points of contact.

3. Bring Them Home

So you’ve had a few drinks. The connection is there. Now give them a place to crash.

As coworkers and drinking buddies, you have one goal: become a valuable friend. This means you are enjoyable to interact with and you consistently demonstrate yourself as a knowledgable addition to the industry.

Now, it’s time to allow your own content to shine.

Here are three ways to bring the relationship to your home turf:

  • Reshare their content. In mediums that allow longer form content, take the time to include a thoughtful introduction. This is not only important for curating content that drives engagement, but it also prompts discussion on their content to spill into your home stream. A warning, however: make sure that what you share is directly relevant to your audience.
  • Cross-engage through curation. When you curate articles that touch on points similar to another publication from an industry leader, bring them in on it. Ask for their take. Identify similarities or differences. Point to their article as an additional resource. Use your curation to draw them into your home stream.
  • Engage in your articles. When relevant, use other people as examples or sources in your articles. Then, let them know. Rather than drawing them into existing conversations, your article allows you to craft the conversation and invite them to take part.

Your goal is to make your couch a regular destination.

But The Couch Needs To Be Safe

A word of warning: this is not about leveraging influencers. “Leveraging influencers” is one of those mindsets that will actually block your success.

This is about networking within your industry. It is about genuine relationships, not manipulation for profit.

The couch needs to be a safe place to sleep.

If you do that, if you make it safe and build relationships, you’ll begin to find some pretty remarkable people on it.

And the couch is where the magic happens.

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4 Comments

  1. Hi Thomas,
    I had always thought of social media relationships more like the kind you go out to coffee with. I don’t think I’ve even considered taking them home to crash on my couch but maybe I should. Networking is critical but confusing in the social media world. I know I’ve stumbled around trying to figure it out. That is why I think this article valuable. You’ve challenged bloggers like me with a different perspective and have provided really helpful tips on how to navigate networking in social media. Loved the article and will share. Thanks. 🙂

    Reply
    • I think the ‘coffee shop conversation’ concept is another great one for how you make connections in social media. Really, anything that moves you out of the ‘broadcast’ paradigm and into the ‘conversation’ paradigm is solid. My struggle in communicating solid social media principles is in the way that even relationship language becomes conscripted into broadcast language.

      When we say “build a relationship with your audience” so many people hear “act like you care so that readers will trust you and buy your stuff.” It’s infuriating.

      If “coffee shop conversation” helps break people out of that motif, then rock with it.

      Reply
  2. Once again I feel like we just had our own personal conversation. You sat me on your couch and it was beautifully therapeutic:) It’s so crazy how you answer my questions before I even ask. I’ve struggled with my profile being such a private person it haunts me …..what’s to much or to little. …am I to boisterous. …or humbled. So my profile remains empty:( yet I have a beautiful resume with wonderful blessings to share! So thank you for pinching me “girl wake up & fill out the profile” lol…relax……let your friends chill on the sofa:) Thank you
    Stay sweet and stay blessed. ..hugs!♡

    Reply
    • Stayc, send me a private message on Google+. Let’s talk a little about some of your goals and see if we can get you pointed in the right direction to accomplish what you’re wanting to accomplish.

      Reply

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