If you want to build your reputation and brand in social networks, there are two questions you need to answer:
1. Who are the influencers you should be paying attention to?
2. How should you be interacting with these influencers in order to build your stature?
A new generation of social intelligence tools is making it easier than ever before to answer the first question. In a recent article, I used one of these tools to compile a list of 250 key financial services influencers in a few minutes.
But before discussing how you’d go about building your stature among this or any other group of online influencers, let’s look at why this strategy might benefit your business.
What is a peer-validated community of interest (and why should you care)?
People with knowledge and influence about a topic will naturally seek out, follow and interact with others online that have similar knowledge and interests. A peer-validated community of interest is defined by those inter-connections that exist among a group of individuals with overlapping subject matter expertise and/or interest.
These self-organized groups of influencers form key networks for thought leaders, content marketers, and anyone involved in a business activity related to the community of interest.
But how does building your reputation among such a peer group of online influencers actually benefit your business?
Here are three benefits to consider:
- Growing your brand profile and reputation means you will likely be exposed to a larger audience and potentially new business prospects.
- Building thought leadership among a professional peer group acts as a vital form of social proof for prospects and clients. People like to do business with someone who is an acknowledged leader in their field.
- Finally, a rich network of peers can benefit your business in ways other than attracting new clients. There is much to learn from peers, such as how they manage similar problems and challenges. What you can gain in knowledge from listening to your network is often under-rated.
There are lots of ways to succeed in the marketplace and reputation branding and thought leadership strategies are not for everyone. But they may be for you if you possess any of these traits:
- You are open to news ideas and learning from others;
- You love asking the question “why”;
- You believe great communicators are the best listeners;
- You enjoy meeting new people and investing in your social networks;
- You’re not shy about sharing your thoughts and feelings publicly;
- You’re not afraid of technology and are open to new ways of working.
10 practical tips for building your reputation among key influencers
In many ways, the strategies associated with building reputation among a group haven’t changed much over the decades, even though the tools and tactics have changed dramatically, especially with the rise of social networks.
Here are some ways to build your stature and reputation among groups of online influencers:
- Research and identify key influencers in your area of interest and follow them on Twitter.
- Make a Twitter list and use it to keep track of your key influencers. Well-curated lists also act as a value-add to the influencer community you’re targeting.
- Extend your connections with key influencers on other social networking platforms such as LinkedIn, Google+, etc.
- Follow key influencers’ blog posts, and comment and share as regularly as possible.
- If you have administrative support, get them to help build out your “listening” capacity by following key influencers RSS feeds in a feed reader such as Feedly.
- Publish your own blog posts that extend a discussion one of your influencers has started, then reference your post and mention the influencer in a Tweet.
- Publish blog posts that bring a number of key influencer’s posts to the attention of your readership, as a service to your audience. Your influencers will notice the attention as well.
- Find and share relevant content that would be of interest to your influencer community and mention key influencers when sharing their posts.
- Look for opportunities at the appropriate time to engage influencers in one-on-one conversations off-line and build relationships in the off-line world.
- Determine which blogs/publication sites garner the most share of the discussion and focus attention there, perhaps guest posting or offering to author a column.
If you have any experiences or interest in reaching out to your communities of interest, I’d love to hear from you.