More than likely, you have heard of one of the following names: Gary Vaynerchuk, Tim Ferriss, Lewis Howes, Marie Forleo or Tony Robbins. You have heard at least one of the names because they are influential entrepreneurs.
But how did they become so influential? Most people truly have no idea how to build millions of die-hard fans and become an authority. Fortunately, there is a step by step growth hack to bootstrap this process. I am living proof that anyone can build influential brands, and I will show you how you can too.
1. Association is one of the most powerful tactics.
A tactic I call “association” is one of the most sure-fire ways to obtain influence. This is one of the most highly guarded, yet simple, secrets that the biggest influencers don’t want you to know. The technique has been around for a long time; people have used it to gain influence since the beginning of modern media.
That is exactly what association is. A mutual transference of followers or fans. Each party gains followers, authority and additional exposure from the other.
2. Understand that influence is greater than fame.
Oprah is famous. There is no question about that. She is also extremely influential, as are all of the other individuals I have mentioned so far. The important part of this equation is influence. I define influence as how much your audience loves what you do, and how much they respond to it. Fame alone does not necessarily mean that people love or respond to what you do.
For example, Lewis Howes, a lifestyle entrepreneur, commands a massive die-hard online following that supports him in many ways.
The Lewis Howes Effect is a mindful approach to building a massive online following that sees you as an authority. Your following values you because you provide genuine value in return. Lewis is a great example of someone who is massively influential and he is building some serious fame.
3. Tony Robbins built his career with association.
Tony Robbins, who I admire and respect infinitely, has used association time and time again to grow his influence. In fact, he is the king of association.
Google image search his name. Scroll through and you will see Oprah, Richard Branson, Marie Forleo, Lewis Howes, Jim Rohn, Chuck Liddell, Shaq, Peter Diamandis, Joe Polish, you name it. Additionally, if you read Tony’s books, or attend his events, you will see him associating with even more highly influential people like Bill Clinton and Ray Dalio.
Don’t mistake the power of association for simple name-dropping. The real difference is being genuine and mindful. As we learned from The Lewis Howes Effect earlier, being genuine and providing real value is the name of the game.
In the most basic sense, think of association as marrying someone. When you marry, you are gaining brothers, sisters, parents, cousins and friends through marriage. Association works the same way. You are choosing platforms to show your face, name or brand alongside influencers.
4. Choose your platform for association.
For association to work, you have to have a platform. Your platform could be a podcast, a book, a YouTube channel or TV show, or something much simpler such as a blog. The name of the game then becomes finding people to associate with. To find the right people to associate with, you must bring something to the table. Having great networking and interview skills as well as genuinely connecting with others are valuable skills to posses.
The next part of the equation is to finding something mutual about the person you are connecting with to share with your audience. To use an extreme example, you could associate with Hitler if he were alive, but depending on the brand you are building, that might not be a good thing.
If, like Howes, a podcast is your platform, you could settle upon a topic that both your audience and your guest’s audience enjoys. This focal point helps strengthen your association with the new audience. You must associate on a mutually interesting topic, or it could be fruitless.
5. How to find influencers to associate with.
It’s not as hard as you may think to find influencers. But you have to be strategic. One of the best ways to go about it is to find people that are not already superstars. For example, Richard Branson is going to be a lot harder to track down and associate with vs. someone who is not heavily sought out.
I like to find influencers who are trending, and not at the top of the mountain already. You can find young authors or writers, speakers who are just getting started, young startup founders, etc. I look for people that might have just started to get featured in big publications, just done a TED talk or are just about to publish their first book.
You want to get in before their egos blow up and they become unreachable. That’s the trick. Once someone has millions of fans and hundreds or thousands of emails a day, it’s going to be a lot harder to cut through the noise and get their attention.
6. Make it a no-brainer to work with you.
It’s up to you to provide serious value before asking for anything in return. Never ask without offering something and expect someone to do what you want. I always offer something first, up front, without asking for anything in return if I’m the one reaching out to a bigger influencer. I want to make it a no-brainer to work with me.
These techniques have helped me connect with a lot of other very successful people, build several brands and successful startups and massively expand my personal and brand’s network and reach.
Articles written by Brian D. Evans who is the founder of BDE Ventures and Influencive. He is an award-winning serial entrepreneur, online marketer, mobile app advisor and accomplished writer. Evans has been building and advising startups for over a decade.