There are influential people in your industry that you probably follow. You subscribe to their newsletters and you want to know what they think is the next cool thing, right? For me it's people like John Jantsch and Jason Fried, people that I respect and really have learned a thing or two from in my career.

If these influencers like what you do, talk about your product and Tweet it, they can send business your way in a heartbeat because of their own devout following. Can you "buy" that kind of interest? I'm not so sure, and many times it's going to get pretty costly.

So how do you get someone who is very influential in your industry to talk about you?

1. Start With a GREAT Product or Service

Yup, that's where it all starts. You can follow someone, ReTweet them, LinkedIn them all day but if what you're selling doesn't appeal to them or is lacking in features, functionality or quality, they'll never get behind it.

2. Identify Influencers

Now that you feel that your product is more than up to snuff, you need to discover who influences your customers. How do you do this? Let's say you're selling " Gluten-free Pasta" and by now you know you have the best pasta on the market. One way to do this is to look into who speaks at industry health-related conferences, who writes articles about gluten-free diets, who the popular bloggers are that might move the needle if they say they love your product or service.

Note, a tool that helps identify influential people is BuzzSumo. By simply typing in a few keywords,you'll see who is talking about your industry, how many followers they have, and how many articles they write. It's very powerful.

3. Follow Them

Now that you've identified who influences your market & target customers it's time to start getting noticed:

  • Follow them on Twitter (they may have a company page and a personal page, follow both!)
  • Like them on their Facebook Page
  • Friend them on LinkedIn
  • Follow them on Instagram
  • Follow them on Google+
  • Follow them on Pinterest
  • Join any social network groups they're members of
  • Set up a Google Alert with their name to see where they're posting content.

If they're looking at their new social media followers and fans they may take notice to you and follow you back...which is exactly what you want!

4. Be Part of the Conversation + Get Followed

Now it's time to join the conversation!

If they blog, join your influencer’s email subscriber list and comment on relevant blog posts.

If you’ve got a Google Alert set up, comment on their blog posts.

On Twitter it's time to ReTweet (RT) great content that your influencers are Tweeting. Add them to a Twitter "List", this way you can segregate your influencers from anyone else you follow and isolate their messages from the rest of them so it's easier to find and RT.

On Facebook you should Like their Facebook posts and Share their content to your social followers. This way they can see who is sharing their content and follow your page back.

On LinkedIn you need to Like and Share both short posts and long posts. Share anything they post to LinkedIn groups as well.

On Instagram, heart their posts. If they see you liking what they post they'll like you back and see what you're posting.

On Pinterest or Tumblr look to see If they're posting some relevant images and content then share with your followers as well.

Be authentic, don't set up an auto-post mechanism where you just RT everything your influencers Tweet. Make sure you offer some color commentary around everything you share. You want them to know there's a human being at the end of a social post!

And if they start following you on any of these social networks make sure to thank the hell out of them to all of your followers. If your followers think you're in with the influencers you're golden.

5. Reach Out to Them

Now that you're part of the social conversation it's time to go a step further and reach directly out to your influencers.

On Twitter you can Reply directly to your influencer by beginning the Tweet with @username and your message. This will be seen by your influencer and anyone who follows you. In addition you can reply to a Tweet that they've Tweeted. You can also Direct Message (DM) them but frankly a ton of those are automated so unfortunately they're paid little attention to.

On LinkedIn you can send an InMail to an influencer that you're not connected to if you upgrade to the premium version. With that you get a limited number of InMails per month. Or if your target influencer did accept your request, you can now message them directly. Remember be straight and to the point, these emails go directly into the inbox they've specified.

On Facebook you can send them a Message about your product and service or you can post to their Facebook page if they've allowed that. I recommend Messaging as be a better way to go.

On their website you can fill out a form or send an email to the address they have published asking for a meeting, talking about how great your offering is and why they need to see it.

One last and very important note: these "influencers" also get noted, syndicated, republished in many other media outlets too so cultivating these relationships in your industry is very important.

Case in point: At Dasheroo we gave a demo to Steve Strauss, CEO at The Self Employed, an amazing site if you don't know of it. Steve also writes for USA Today. He wrote an article on To Pump Up Pageviews Engage Your Readers and just had a slight mention of Dasheroo in the article. Did we get a ton of traffic? Not from that article in particular. But when Captivate the company that gets your attention in city elevators picked us up we had a record day of new users.

If you find in your business it only makes sense to use a few social networks, just save your valuable time and focus on those, find out what works and what doesn't. Influencer marketing can take time but the payoff can be huge!