“How do I research influencers online?”

I got this question from Michael, a subscriber.

He asked,

“How do I research influencers in my niche?  I want to get on podcasts and do interviews and become a thought leader, but I don’t know how to connect with the influencers. Any tips?”

Great question Michael.

But first, two questions.

Why do you need to connect with influencers in your field?

And… what do we mean by “influencer”?

First… the influencers in your field have already been “chosen” by a community of people as the leaders to be trusted on the subject matter domain you are also seeking to build trust around as an authority.

It makes perfect sense that you would want to reach out and get to know them.

If you want to be a thought leader, then these other influencers will one day be your peers, so you might as well introduce yourself, right?

And … when you build relationships with influencers in your niche or industry, then it opens up a world of opportunities, from collaborating on interviews or book projects to cross promotions.

Second question: what do we mean by “influencer”?

I’m going to take a controversial stand on this issue.

Yesterday’s influencers are dead. Today’s influencers you probably haven’t heard of.

Yesterday’s influencers are writing books no one is reading and not connecting with their readers, trying to get quoted in the newspaper or on radio, and flying around the country giving speeches.

Today’s influencers have built audiences across multiple digital platforms.

They are “influencers” because they can shape taste and steer thousands or millions of eyeballs in whatever direction they wish.

As my friend Ryan Williams, author of The Influencer Economy, would say… an influencer is someone who has created a bigger vision and built a platform around that vision.

Now as to Michael’s original question … what if you don’t know who all the influencers are? How do we research them?

There’s two ways you can research who they are. The faster paid way, and the slower free way.

Let’s start with the faster paid way.

Tool #1 – BuzzSumo

BuzzSumo is a tool for researching influencers in a particular field, as well as searching published content on a particular topic. They have free and paid versions of the tool.

To use it, you simply search for keywords and click on the Influencer tab.

Tool #2 – Ninja Outreach

Ninja Outreach (referral link) is like what would happen if BuzzSumo and a CRM got together and had a steamy, romantic night between the sheets, and had a baby.

Ninja Outreach allows you to run searches with keywords and compile lists of thought leaders. Then you can use their built in CRM to send outreach messages.

I’m long overdue for a longer review of Ninja Outreach, so stay tuned.

Now, there are a few less expensive options for doing all this research.

1.  Twitter

Not all thought leaders are active on Twitter, but there enough thought leaders who are active on Twitter that it justifies you spending some time there.

People say to me all the time “my people are not on Twitter” or “my people are not on Facebook.” To that, I say: sure, not all of ‘your people’ are on every social media platform. But most of the major social media platforms are large enough that there are enough of any given market present to keep you more than busy. Don’t worry about who is ‘not there.’

For an example, let’s search for thought leaders around “wine.” I went onto Twitter and searched for the hashtag “#wine.”

I found the Wine Bloggers Conference Twitter handle, which had in turn followed 4,200 wine thought leaders. That gives you a huge number of other wine thought leaders to research.

1.  Google

Don’t forget trusty old Google. Just googling the keyword terms you are researching may yield interesting results.

I searched for ‘wine blog’ and found numerous influential wine blogs written by thought leaders.

2.  Amazon

I always like to search for authors who have written books on a particular topic. So, carrying through with the “wine thought leader” example, you can search for books written about wine.

Be careful though. Just because someone has written an authoritative book on the topic doesn’t mean they are a true thought leader who has put together an engaged audience of followers who turn to that person for guidance.

Many authors do a crappy job of connecting with their readers. You want to avoid those kinds of authors.

Other authors may have written a number of books on different topics, so their “audience” is really focused on different topics.

3.  YouTube

I did a search for wine on YouTube and stumbled upon an interesting thought leader… it was actually a whole YouTube Channel called “Tipsy Bartender” – a male bartender who makes creative and funny videos with inventive mixed drinks. I found a video called “Wine for Beginners” which had 700,000 views, and his channel had 3.2 million subscribers.

The Tipsy Bartender channel on YouTube: http://buff.ly/2snpVsb

Another area to search for is by searching for your keyword plus “webinar” and you may find some interesting individuals or businesses hosting webinars on relevant topics for you.

4.  iTunes

Finally, you should check out iTunes for podcasts. Find the podcasters who have built a following around a particular topic.

Again, just as I cautioned regarding authors, you want to be sure they have actually built an engaged audience.

There are some podcasters who have huge engaged audiences, and others who have hardly anyone paying attention, even if they have published hundreds of episodes.

Time to Kick Ass

When my business partner Jeremy Weisz and I do a Rise25 webinar, we always end the webinar with our “ass kicking” section where we give people specific homework they MUST take action on.

Because education is nothing more than mental masturbation if you don’t steer it towards action-takin’.

So here’s your homework…

Spend 15 minutes researching thought leaders in your field. Create a spreadsheet and compile a list.

Next, send at least 2 emails to these thought leaders complimenting them. For bonus points, actually request an interview with them. You can publish the interview on your blog or on LinkedIn or Medium.

Happy researching!


P.S.: If you realize the #1 factor which will determine your success is “who you know” … and you realize you need to upgrade your network and connect with more influencers in your industry – so you can get more clients and more revenues in the door – then check out my free webinar “How to ‘Cold Email’ Any VIP.”

In this webinar, I share the 5 things you MUST do if you want your emails to be opened, read and responded to by VIPs you admire; How to go from a genuine relationship to building your income based on these relationships with VIPs and Influencers; How to go from getting your emails opened to building a genuine relationship and I’ll also share 5 of my best email templates you can use to connect with the VIPs you want to build relationships with.

Watch the webinar here.