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11 Ways To Engage Influencers Before Asking For Something

11 Ways To Engage Influencers Before Asking For Something

You want to get noticed by influencers don’t you?

The trick is not to yell “me, me, me” over the rooftops.

Unfortunately, I see exactly this tactic nearly every day. Here’s a recent email I received:

get noticed image for engage influencers

I get this exact template ALL THE TIME. It reads like this:

  1. Hey Dave – you wrote a great article (which I probably didn’t read)
  2. But you forgot to link here, or linked to a poorer resource
  3. How about linking to mine, instead?

From people I have never met, who offer me nothing in return.

Now to be honest, sometimes the resources they send are great, and from time to time I’ll even link to them.

But what would go SO much better would be if someone offered me something, anything related to what I’m working on.

So, in light of this movement towards depersonalization, I’m going to pitch you all on how you can engage with people BEFORE demanding something from them, as well as give you some ideas for what you can offer in that outreach email.

Here are 11 ways to build a relationship before asking for something in return.

1. Respond to their audiences’ questions in comments

What do influencers value most?

Their audience, of course!

What I love (love!) is when someone sparks a discussion on my blog. Afterall, the point of writing content, lest we forget, is to spark conversation.

For example, here’s a great discussion that took place on BareMetric’s blog not that long ago.

great discussion on BareMetric’s blog image for engage influencers

The question was originally to Josh, but the first person to answer was actually another member from the audience. Once the ice was broken, more comments flooded in.

Influencers love to see this! Do this just a few times on their blog, and they will remember you.

2. Invite them to a podcast or interview

My most successful outreach campaigns (by acceptance rate) are always requests to interview someone on our podcast.

And, not surprisingly, these are the outreach campaigns I respond to the most as well.

Invititation podcast or interview image for engage influencers

Does it surprise anyone that I have much better luck featuring someone on my podcast than asking a stranger for a link?

Probably not. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever turned one down myself.

People like to be featured, influencers especially. It’s what got them there in the first place after all.

And afterward, you can capitalize off that new personal relationship to maybe get a link (possibly even to that very same podcast – see how it works?).

3. Send them a gift (ex. an amazon book)

Send them a gift image for engage influencers

Let’s stop thinking digitally, just for a moment. We tend to default there automatically since we all work online.

But it’s not all that hard to transition out of it, we just have to ask for someone’s phone number, or physical address.

Here’s an email I received from Sara at Socially Stacked, in which she offered me a free t-shirt in exchange for changing my link (which was already to them, she just wanted an update).

email I received at Socially Stacked image for engage influencers

Everyone loves free t shirts – especially people who went to college and lament the fact that post college they are so hard to get!

P.S. – You know what I love most about this shirt – my girlfriend likes it. Yes, it’s actually a quality shirt, and it’s the first time someone ever sent me a physical gift for a digital action. #remembered.

4. Buy them lunch (or offer to meet in person)

Sticking with our recent theme of non digital acts of affection, let’s move onto buying launch, which I’ve seen recommended by not just one but two great entrepreneurs (Ramit Sethi and Neil Patel).

Buy them lunch image for engage influencers

Now you might be wondering if they have so much money and you, potentially, don’t – why would you buy them lunch?

Remember, it’s not about the money, it’s about the gesture.

Offering to buy someone lunch is like saying, “I know your time is valuable. I’d like to treat you in exchange for spending it on me”.

This tactic will allow you to move levels above your traditional social / entrepreneurial class, and the cost of lunch (<$30) is well worth the advice (which usually costs hundreds per hour).

5. Leave them a review on Amazon or iTunes (or give them a testimonial)

Positive reviews are how many search engines work, such as iTunes, Amazon, and TripAdvisor.

Positive reviews image for engage influencers

Unfortunately they’re a pain in the butt to get, because they require the person to create an account, log in, and post something after they’ve already received all the value there is to get.

They have no incentive to leave a review, which is why so many great products and podcasts have relatively few reviews.

So if you want to stand out in the crowd, a relatively easy way (5 minutes, seriously), is to write someone a review.

A spin on that is to send someone an offer for a testimonial. I used this recently myself by offering Drip, the email marketing software I use, a testimonial solely because I like their product so much:

send someone an offer for a testimonial image for engage influencers

About a month after I provided them with the testimonial, they demonstrated our blogger outreach software and became a customer. An unintended but welcome consequence!

6. Offer them your product for free

Speaking of products, have you considered offering yours for free?

If your product is inexpensive, or digital, this is a super simple way to get a few folks on board.

People love free swag (remember the t-shirt example).

This works great in tandem with a product review if you’re marketing an eCommerce website or SaaS!

7. Endorse them on LinkedIn

The other day my partner met with a potential client. He didn’t close the deal.

The reason, the client said, was because his LinkedIn profile was lacking connections.

Now, this might seem like a very arbitrary reason to ding someone (to us it did), but the point is that your online profiles matter.

They’re your reputation.

And when it comes to LinkedIn, one of the ways to make it sparkle is through Skills & Endorsements.

Skills & Endorsements image for engage influencers

So, spend some time and hand out a few recommendations. It’s free, and the person gets a notification when you do it!

8. Join their newsletter and respond to their questions

A tip that Brian from VideoFruit recommends is to join someone’s newsletter and answer their first email.

tip from VideoFruit to join someone’s newsletter image for engage influencers

As someone who has a newsletter and in whose first email is a question, I can say that people rarely take the time to answer this question and engage with me.

But I always respond when someone does.

Sign up for the newsletters of your favorite influencers and actually let them know you’re following along.

9. Introduce them to someone (a potential customer, or a connection)

This is by and large the most valuable thing you can do for someone.

A valuable introduction, is, well, invaluable.

Here’s an example of this happening to me just the other day:

Introduce to a potential customer image for engage influencers

In addition to helping two people at the same time, you’ll also be helping yourself by tightening your own network.

And trust me, if the two people get major value out of meeting each other they will NEVER forget who made that introduction.

10. Become a case study for them

Another thing I’m looking for is successful case studies that prove the points I try to make elsewhere.

For example, if I write and publish this article about building relationships, I’d love for someone to put it into action and use one of the techniques and then let me know.

Another example is with my software – we’re constantly on the lookout for success stories, and when one comes my way, you’re guaranteed to get featured with a link.

successful case studies image for engage influencers

I did this recently as well with Drip in an article I wrote about how we achieved nearly 1000% ROI on Black Friday with Drip. In turn, they featured us on their blog and on Medium (note how in this example we’ve used multiple techniques including the testimonial and the case study to build a relationship with another software tool in our niche).

11. Send them birthday wishes on G+ or Facebook

Send birthday wishes on G+ or Facebook image for engage influencers

This last one is a fun one, but why not wish someone a happy birthday, which you can do on FB and G+.

It will make you feel good, try it!


We’ve been way more successful at getting links (and many more things much more valuable than links), when we thought first about what we could give and thought last about what we could take.

I’ve also been much more generous giving out links and other things when the tables were turned.

How do you like to build relationships with influencers?

Guest Author: Dave Schneider is the co-founder of NinjaOutreach an all in one Prospecting and Outreach tool which was created to streamline the process of connecting with influencers. He can also be found @ninjaoutreachand his business blog SelfMadeBusinessman.

Jeffbullas's Blog


  • Bill

    Jeff, great post very informative and insightful. I use Krowdster.co to identify and reach out to Influencers and super backers for crowdfunding campaigns and building relationships with these influencers, bloggers and super backers is a vital first step. It takes time and effort, but the ROI is very good!!

    • Dave Schneider

      Hi Bill – thanks for the tip. Possible check out NinjaOutreach.com if you want to explore an alternative

  • Himanshu Tyagi

    I have read a lot of articles talking about how to reach out to influencers. I have been toying with the idea to reach out to them for over a year now, but have never written any mail. Reason? Because I never had any great piece of content that I could offer them to which they could link (since that is the only way of reaching out to influencers that I knew – offer them great content and they “may” link to it if they like it). But I see some really nice strategies here. Some are old school (buying them lunch or wishing them on their birthdays) but believe they are still very effective. Thanks Dave. I will try out some of these and let you know how it went.

    • Dave Schneider

      I think this year is the year Himanshu!

  • Hi Dave

    Love this list. Especially love the fact that most of these items deal with the human side and pure engagement. Too many times people are trying to engage with others solely to benefit themselves. As you said, giving is much better than getting. Sure, you need to get from time to time but it should be the exception to the norm.

    Thanks for giving me a few more ideas on how I can add value to someone else’s online platform while also opening network connections for me.

    – Jeff

    • Dave Schneider

      Hi Jeff – thanks let us know how it goes!

  • Hey Dave,

    The best and most convenient way for me is by leaving comments and sharing their blog posts.

    This has helped me put myself out there and I’ve connected with many bloggers and influencers with the little time I have.

    So now when I ask for a favor, most will give me a positive response. When it comes down to it it’s all about connecting with the right people and being of value to them.

    Thanks for sharing! Have a good one!

    • Dave Schneider

      Thanks for sharing Sherman!

  • Thank you for that article Dave! These are great tips to try out. We’ll keep them in mind while building our community.
    And thanks to Jeff for sharing this on Twitter 🙂

  • Iola Goulton

    I like the ideas. They actually sound doable (that is a word, right?). I especially like #8, but I’m surprised how many newsletters I subscribe to don’t actually ask a question. Something to remember when I write my own . . .

    • Dave Schneider

      True – but it’s possible to respond in other ways to a newsletter, or just thank them for the great content.

  • This was the perfect article for me to read this morning! I was getting ready to focus on developing more influencer relationships. Can’t wait to try out some of Dave Schneider’s great suggestions! I especially appreciated reading that you respond positively to interview requests. Since I am always looking for guests to interview on my hangout show (soon to expand to podcast), I often worry that I don’t have enough of an audience to interest other marketers. You’ve given me encouragement to approach more people. After all the worst that can happen is they might say “no.” Thanks, Dave and Jeff, for the valuable read.

    • Dave Schneider

      Sure Susan reach out to me any time about a interview!

  • hey dave, thanks so much for this, it’s exactly what I need right now and I was feeling a bit lost!
    (how long did it take you to find a picture with 11 hands for your 11 points?!) 🙂

  • Monica

    Longest string of nonsense I’ve read in weeks. Invite people to dinner, buy them a gift, invite them to a podcast (cause everybody has one of these) or send them birthday messages. You’d come across as a creeper, at best. If that’s what you can suggest to connect with influencers, wow! The world of influencer marketing needs a revamp, FAST!! Im off to invite Gary Vee at lunch. :))) Sorry Jeff, I usually like your blogs, but this one was a complete waste of my time!

  • I’ve been reading articles for new bloggers for the last few weeks, and I feel like I’ve been reading the same regurgitated info over and over. You’ve provided me with new ideas. I especially liked the idea of taking it beyond digital and offering material incentives. It’s funny how we used to get excited over getting new email, but now we’re back to being thrilled at receiving something personal in the mail.

  • Clare Liang

    Hi Dave, one question regarding point no 7, what do you recommend on how to get the endorsement from the people after we have endorse theirs? I have done it many times however most people they don’t give the endorsement back to me.

  • Great Post Jeff am Samwel Dollah addicted to your blog ever since. Just to note small typo on your last part…. Could this be also among the methods to engage with influencers? helping them notice small errors on their post or blog?

  • Deleted buddy sorry been offline for so many months.