One of the lessons you will learn as you try to build and grow a business is using leverage. Leverage is putting in x amount of effort but, because of where you put that effort, getting 2x the result. This approach is particularly effective in the early days of your business when you are small.

Your marketing is where leverage can have a huge impact. Part of every entrepreneur’s marketing plan should be engaging influencers to promote your business. An influencer is somebody who can influence others to buy a product. Every industry has them. Large companies can afford to pay them (e.g. shoe companies pay NBA stars) but small businesses and startups do not have that luxury. Instead they need to convince the influencers to help them.

The best way to get an influencer to help promote your business is to build a relationship with them. They have spent a lot of time and put in a lot of effort in building their reputation and growing their followers. If you try to take advantage of that you will do yourself more harm than good. Understand that they have built up trust with their audience. Every time they ask their audience to purchase something they are drawing down a bit on that trust. (Think of it like a bank account. Providing value is a deposit and asking for somebody to buy is a withdrawal.)

Identify Influencers in Your Market

Start by building a list of people that are influential with your target market. When you created your <ideal customer> you looked at who they followed on Twitter. Those are a good place to start. Also think about what blogs they read and add the authors of those to your list.

Start Interacting with Each Influencers

Follow each of the influencers on Twitter and start responding to their tweets as well as retweeting the best ones. Comment on their blogs posts and share them with your own social media followers. Find their email address and send them a personal email where you mention a post that you particularly enjoyed and that you shared it with your followers.

Provide Value to Your Influencers

Just like you need to offer value when <building your mailing list> you need to offer value to influencers. One way to do that is to do something for them for free and without asking. You can actively promote some of their content or one of their products to your audience. Another way is to write a blog post and ask them if they would be interested in publishing it on their blog (instead of you publishing it on yours). This provides them with valuable content for their site and gives you a valuable link back to yours.

Depending on your product you can also offer them a free sample of it.

Remember to Make the Ask for Help

Now that you have provided them value, and hopefully continue to do so to continue strengthening your relationship, you can ask them for something in return. Email them and mention that you have something that you have been working on and would really appreciate them taking a look at it and possibly sharing it with their audience. Ask their permission to send it to them. If they say yes then send them the link/content.

When they share this with their audience you have effectively used leverage. You built a relationship with one person but have reached hundreds or thousands.